shrugs off embarrassing court loss, vows resumption of
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[June 10, 2014]
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) - An
embarrassing court ruling that halted Japan's Antarctic
whaling will actually help Tokyo take whales in the name
of science, a top whaling official said just a day after
the prime minister vowed to press for commercial
Tokyo's decades-old and disputed "scientific whaling" program
suffered a blow in March when the International Court of Justice (ICJ),
in a surprise ruling, ordered a halt to annual hunts in the Southern
Though Japan abandoned its Antarctic hunt for this year, it
immediately vowed to retool its research program with an eye to
resuming it as early as the 2015-2016 season, and eventually to
resume commercial whaling as well.
It is carrying out a scaled-down version of its less known Northern
The court ruling was actually good for Japan by upholding the legal
basis for whaling, said Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the
International Whaling Commission (IWC).
"The assumption of the court is that Japan could ... look at a new
research plan," Morishita told a news conference in Tokyo.
"And that it's okay for Japan to propose a new plan which involves
killing whales as long as it takes account of the reasoning and
conclusions set by the ICJ at this time."
Though anti-whaling nations say the IWC should be acting to conserve
whales, Japan and its allies argue that it was set up to manage
whales as a resource, a stance Morishita said the court supported by
saying the IWC's purpose remains the same.
In consideration of the ruling, Japan did cut its quota for the
Pacific hunt, which extends from Japan's coastline out into a broad
swathe of the ocean, to 210 from 380.
Japan has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered
and began what it called scientific whaling in 1987, a year after an
international moratorium came into effect, despite growing global
outrage, including from key allies such as the United States.
[to top of second column]
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, himself hailing from one of Japan's major
whaling areas, told a parliamentary committee on Monday that Tokyo
would press ahead with its whaling plans.
"We will carry out surveys on whales with the aim of reviving
commercial whaling," Abe said. "I will also make further efforts to
gain international understanding."
Though few Japanese now eat whale, the government argues that the
meat is a part of Japanese food culture.
"Even if some country thinks that whales are special or sacred, as
long as whales are sustainably utilized that view should not be
forced on others," Morishita said.
"...If people in India tried to impose their way of treatment of
cows on the rest of the world and tried to promote prohibiting of
eating at McDonald's or hamburgers, what would happen?"
(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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