Yesterday, Japan officially canceled all plans to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean in 2014 just days after an international court ruled against the killings. This Japanese annual ritual which has drawn criticism from all over the world is now cancelled for the first time in over 25 years.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government would comply with the court order for this year, but he expressed his disappointment in the ruling during a meeting with members of the Japanese government’s legal delegation. As a result, it is very possible that that Japan will try to revive the program under different legal reasoning next year.
It is important to note that the hunt had taken advantage of a loophole in a 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling that allowed killings for research purposes as reported by the New York Times. The ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Monday said the scientific output from Japan’s whaling program in Antarctica “appears limited” and suggested that the hunt was continued because of politics, rather than science.
Japanese government has confirmed that Japan would abide by international legal rulings as Japan may not have any other choices but to obey the court as reported by several news outlets. This is a critical time for Japan as the country is calling on China to adhere to international legal laws in the territorial dispute over East China Sea islands claimed by both countries.