THE HAGUE, Netherlands, April 12 (UPI) -- The U.N.'s International Court of Justice says Australia will have its day in court in its challenge against Japan's whaling program in Antarctica.
The court has set a June date for the start of hearings in The Hague in the Netherlands, the BBC reported Friday.
Australia instituted legal action against Japan over whaling in 2010.
Commercial whaling has been banned for 25 years, but Japan catches about 1,000 whales annually in what it terms a scientific research program.
Australia, along with other critics, calls Japan's activities commercial whaling in another guise and has asked the U.N. court to halt a Japanese whale research program, which includes hunting in Antarctica using a special permit.
Any member country of the International Whaling Commission can unilaterally issue "scientific permits," as Japan has done.
Australia's Attorney General Mark Dreyfus applauded the U.N. court's decision to conduct hearings.
"Australia will now have its day in court to establish, once and for all, that Japan's whaling hunt is not for scientific purposes and is against international law," he said.
Japanese officials said they would argue the country's whaling activity is legal.