Society

UN Court Rules Against Japanese Whaling Hunt

| by Will Hagle

Australia has prevailed over Japan in a case held in international court. The case called into question Japan's whaling practices in the Southern Ocean. 

The UN court ultimately ruled that Japan’s whaling hunt can not be considered a scientific program, despite the country's efforts to describe the practice as such. Peter Tomka, one of 16 judges serving on the panel for the case, which was heard by the International Court of Justice, elaborated on the court’s ruling.

“The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not for purposes of scientific research,” Tomka said. 

According to SBS News, the vote by the judges passed 12 to four in favor of Australia. The country had requested that the court ban Japan’s annual whaling hunt, which had been operating based on a loophole in the 1986 International Whaling Commission that allowed for the animals to be killed for the purpose of collecting scientific data. The court claimed that the practice should cease "with immediate effect." 

The case is seen as a victory by environmental and animal activists that have long criticized Japan’s practice of hunting whales. Many claim that Japan used the guise of scientific research in order to carry out large-scale commercial killings of the animals.

According to Al-Jazeera, Japan has killed over 10,000 whales since 1988 as a part of the program, which it continued to defend despite the ruling.