July 2, 2013
Japan Defends Whale Killing Activities In International Court
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Japan defended its controversial whaling activities on Tuesday in front of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.
Last week, Australia went to the United Nation's highest court in an attempt to put an end to Japan's hunting of whales for "scientific" purposes. The country said Japan's excuse to kill whales for scientific reasons is nothing more than a disguise to simply hunt the animals. Australia pointed out that Japan was exploiting a loophole by continuing to hunt whales for research in spite of a 1986 International Whaling Commission ban on commercial whaling.
Japan's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Koji Tsuruoka told the court on Tuesday that Australia was unilaterally trying to push a total ban on whaling, saying the country "cannot impose its will onto other nations."
According to AFP, Tsuruoka stood by Japan's claims, saying "such whaling is not commercial, but scientific.
"Japan has always lived in harmony with nature throughout its history. Surrounded by the sea, Japan would be the last country to make abusive use of whales," he told the court. "We wish to emphasize that the case concerns the legality of Japan's whaling not the evaluation of good or bad science."
He said Japan believes animal protection is an essentially good cause and that they conduct scientific research in a way that no harm to stocks will occur.
"Men and their cultures perceive animals in different ways," said Tsuruoka, according to AFP. "We don't criticize other cultures. If you had to establish the superiority of one culture over another, the world could not live in peace."
Australia's lawyer, Bill Campbell, pointed out last week that if the rest of the 88 member states of the International Convention of the Regulation of Whaling did business under Japan's point of view, then a total of 83,215 Minke whales would be killed each year.
"If one took Japan's view of the convention this would be entirely permissible. Of course, the consequences of taking 83,215 Minke whales a year would be catastrophic for the Minke whale population but in Japan's view would be legal," Campbell told the court. "In short, Japan seeks to cloak its ongoing commercial whaling in the lab coat of science."
However, Tsuruoka stuck to his guns, saying Japan's hunts provide valuable data to the International Whaling Commission.
Lawyer Alain Pellet, who represents Japan, said the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case because Australia has expressed reservations in the past about the court's jurisdiction in maritime cases, according to the Washington Post.
Hearings on this case are expected to wrap up on July 16, after which the 16-judge world court will take a few months to issue a judgment. Australia hopes the ruling will come before the year's end. Should the court implement a full ban on whaling in their ruling, Japan would be prevented from engaging in whaling during the Southern Hemisphere's summer months.