TOKYO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The Japanese government announced it will resume whaling in the Antarctic in early 2016, despite a World Court ruling and staunch opposition from Australia to cease the activity.
Japan's Fisheries Agency told the International Whaling Commission it will begin killing hundreds of minke whales. The decision comes after the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled the country's whaling program was illegal and ordered Japan to stop, saying it cannot be justified as scientific research. In the March 2014 case brought by Australia, International Whaling Commission experts said Japan had failed to demonstrate the need to kill whales for research.
In October, Japan told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon the ruling does not apply to its program.
Greg Hunt, Australia's environment minister, condemned Japan's decision, saying Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have told Japan their country does not support its whaling expeditions.
"Japan cannot unilaterally decide whether it has adequately addressed the scientific committee's questions," Hunt said. "Australia will continue to pursue the issue through the International Whaling Commission and in direct discussions with Japan."
Japan began its whaling program in 1987. The country has long said most whales are not endangered and eating whale is part of its food culture.