March 31 - Judges at the highest U.N. court order Japan to halt whaling in the Antarctic, rejecting the country's long-held argument that the catch was for scientific purposes. Mana Rabiee reports.
Judges at the highest U.N. court ordered Japan on Monday to halt its whaling in the Antarctic. They rejected Japan's argument that its whaling was for scientific purposes, not for human consumption. Instead, they sided with the plaintiff in the case, Australia, which said the scientific output from Japan didn't justify the numbers of whales being killed. Some 850 minke whales each year. (SOUNDBITE) (English), PRESIDING JUDGE, PETER TOMKA, SAYING: "The Court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating the whales in connection with JARPA 2, are not for purposes of scientific research." Japan's agent in the case called the ruling a disappointment but said Tokyo won't contradict the court. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AGENT OF JAPAN, KOJI TSURUOKA SAYING: "As a state that respects rule of law, the order of international law, and as a responsible member of the global community, Japan will abide by the decision of the court." The Sea Shepherd conservation group called the court's ruling a "strong statement" but hinted it won't completely guarantee the whaling will end. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SEA SHEPHERD CONSERVATION SOCIETY ADVISOR, GEERT VONS SAYING: "I don't know if Japan will proceed with their whaling, they might find a new program, a new scientific research program in the future, but for the moment I feel very confident that will not happen, because as the judge said, they should fulfill their obligations, they should meet standards and they have not done so far." Monday's judgment is an embarrassment to Japan. It's one of only a handful of nations still hunting whales, whose meat is a popular delicacy there. Tokyo is free to continue its whaling if it withdraws from a 1986 moratorium or the 1946 international convention regulating the practice.