TOKYO: Japan will robustly defend its whaling program at the UN’s top court this week, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday, as Sydney and Tokyo ready to do battle over the legality of the hunt.
A day before the oral hearing is due to start at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Kishida said Tokyo has no intention to back down under pressure.
“Japan will fully engage in the case so the country’s position and thinking will be understood,” he told reporters.
“Japan’s research whaling is a scientific endeavor carried out legally under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, article 8.
“Japan will make this point clearly in the hearing.”
While Norway and Iceland have commercial whaling programs, Japan insists its hunt is purely scientific, although it makes no secret of the fact that the resulting meat ends up on plates back home.
The whaling research is to prove that commercial whaling is viable. The proceeds from sales of the meat partly pay for the program.
Tokyo defends the practice of eating whale meat as a culinary tradition.
Japan’s Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi vowed in February that Japan would never stop hunting whales, saying it was a “long tradition and culture” in his country.
Canberra will argue before the International Court of Justice that Japan is exploiting a loophole by continuing to hunt whales as scientific research in spite of a 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) ban on commercial whaling.
Australia wants ICJ judges to order Tokyo to stop its Jarpa II research program and “revoke any authorizations, permits or licenses” to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean.