But the ICJ ruling only specifically forbids the country's Antarctic whaling efforts, which did not pass muster as "scientific." Japan also conducts a "research hunt" in two areas of the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
In defiance of the ruling -- or at least in mockery of its unfortunate specificity -- Japan's whaling fleet set out for the northwestern Pacific last week. On Friday, Japanese officials confirmed the whalers had already killed 30 minke whales.
Japanese officials continue to claim their whaling efforts are scientific in nature, but the majority of Japan's catch ends up in meat markets throughout the island nation.
"I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Last week at a parliamentary meeting. "To that end, I will step up efforts further to get understanding from the international community."
In other words, Japan aims to keep killing whales to prove it's okay to kill whales.
"We're hugely disappointed in the statement from Prime Minister Abe," said Leigh Henry, senior policy adviser with the World Wildlife Fund.
"I think everybody hoped that the [international] court's decision would put an end to [Japan's scientific whaling] and Japan would walk away," she said. "But clearly they're not."