A United Nations court ruling banning Japan’s Antarctic whaling program will be honored, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said.
The International Court of Justice ruled Monday the program, in which about 3,600 minke whales were captured and killed since 2005, was not for scientific research, as Japan had claimed.
Kushida said Tuesday Japan would respond after “carefully examining the contents of the ruling,” adding, “we want to accept this from a position that respects the international legal order.”
Japan was a party to a 1986 moratorium on whaling, but continued the practice under provisions that allowed whaling for scientific research. It can withdraw from the International Whaling Commission to continue the practice.
Norway and Iceland never signed the moratorium and continue commercial whaling.
The ruling was hailed by supporters of the ban, notably Australia, which brought the case to the court in 2010, and New Zealand, which supported Australia. The suit argued Japan’s program was commercial whaling in disguise; Japan argued the case was Australia’s attempt to impose its cultural norms.
After the ruling, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was “delighted by the result.” Former Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett called it a vindication of the government’s decision to go to court.
New Zealand prime Minister John Key said he expected Japan to abide by the decision, noting Japan has “always acknowledged the international rule of law.” [BBC]