Australia takes legal action to stop Japan whaling

June 1, 2010 by Kyoko Hasegawa
Greenpeace-issued photo shows the Yushin Maru Japanese whaling vessel firing a harpoon at a minke whale in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica. Australia has launched legal action at the International Court of Justice to stop Japan's hunting of whales, Japanese officials have said, calling the move "extremely regrettable".

Australia has launched legal action at the International Court of Justice to stop Japan's hunting of whales, Japanese officials said Tuesday, calling the move "extremely regrettable".

Australia's action in The Hague follows months of tension between Canberra and Tokyo, which kills the ocean giants under a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium that allows lethal "scientific research".

"We were informed that Australia has filed a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice regarding research whaling," said a Japanese fisheries agency official. "We will discuss how to deal with it."

Hirofumi Hirano, Japan's top government spokesman, said: "I think it is extremely regrettable. The Japanese government will deal with it properly, based on our position."

Australia has long protested against Japan's annual whaling expeditions in , and has in recent months hardened its stance, announcing Friday that it would launch legal action in The Hague this week.

"We want to see an end to being killed in the name of science in the ," said Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett last week, vowing "to bring a permanent end to whaling in the Southern Ocean".

A Japanese foreign ministry official told AFP on Tuesday: "We are studying our strategy regarding the lawsuit. Details are yet to be decided, but we won't disclose our strategy even after we make a decision."

The legal action comes just ahead of the June 21-25 annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Morocco, which will discuss a compromise proposal to end years of divisions among its pro- and anti-whaling members.

The plan would allow Japan -- as well as Iceland and Norway, which kill whales in defiance of the moratorium -- to hunt the mammals openly if they agree to reduce their catch "significantly" over 10 years.

Australia has attacked the compromise, under which Japan's Antarctic catch would go down to 410 whales next season -- from about 500 this year -- and then 205 in the 2015-2016 season.

Japanese whalers have clashed in recent years with militant environmentalists who harass them on the high seas.

In their annual clashes, the adversaries regularly trade icy jets from water cannon, while the environmentalists hurl blood-red paint containers and rancid butter, or butyric acid, stink bombs at the whaling ships.

The US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society harassed Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters for months in the 2009-2010 season, a campaign which both sides say reduced the Japanese cull by several hundred .

One of its members, Peter Bethune, is on trial in Japan on five charges after he boarded the security ship of the Japanese whaling fleet in February and was detained.

The New Zealander last week pleaded guilty to all but a charge of assault, which relates to his firing a rancid butter stink-bomb during a February 11 clash with the whalers.

Bethune faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. His next hearing is set for June 10, when the court will announce the date of the verdict.

Japan, which says whaling has been part of its culture for centuries, is also seeking Interpol's help to arrest Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson.

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not rated yet Jun 02, 2010
The cloak that Japan throws over their fouling the environment is the same cloak used to educate their people to enslave their neighbors & go to war against them & the U.S.

Witness their overfishing. No minamoto pearls of the quality of 40 years ago because of pollution. The Minimata disease maiming their people.

Japanese philosophy and religion led to the slaughter of thousands of helpless POWS. Caused the suicides of many civilians on Okinawa in World War 2. This fanaticism is what the U.S. believed it would meet when it invaded the mainland and encouraged the U.S. to drop the A bombs on Japanese cities.

It saved many American lives though ironically the Japanese did not care how many of its people were killed but were more afraid of the Russians entering the war. Maybe because the Russians treated POWS the same way. Samurai swords are named for the # of heads lopped off at one time. This is what they live by and killing whales is normal for them.
not rated yet Jun 13, 2010
It is disgusting in this day and age that the Japanese, who hold so much superior economic power, to resort to killing whales for food. That proves how darn STINGY THE JAPANESE ARE!!! They are too darn STINGY to purchase food so they resort to taking and possible making EXTINCT THE WHALES OF THE WORLD'S SEAS. Maybe that is how the CHEAP JAPS GOT THEIR ECONOMIC POWER BY BEING TOO STINGY TO PRODUCE, OR EVEN PURCHASE THEIR OWN FOOD...JUST STEALING FROM NATURE WITH NO CONCERN ABOUT MAKING WHALES EXTINCT!! The JAPS attempt to justify their STINGINESS by calling it "RESEARCH", but I ask when did the even attempt to clone a whale...THE "RESEARCH" PLOY IS JUST A COVER FOR THE CHEAP JAPS TO STEAL WHALES FOR FOOD!!!

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