Japan looks set to press for the resumption of commercial whaling through research, while seeking "understanding" from the international community.
31 Mar 2014 - 4:34 PM  UPDATED 10 Jun 2014 - 10:22 AM

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the UN's International Court of Justice decision on Japanese whaling.

Key developments:

  • Shinzo Abe hopes to renew commercial whaling
  • Japan cancels next Antarctic whaling hunt for the first time in more than 25 years
  • Opposition urges Japan to co-operate with Australia on non-lethal whaling research
  • Concerns whale hunt could continue in northern hemisphere
Tuesday 10 Jun 2014
Japan looks set to press for the resumption of commercial whaling through research, while seeking "understanding" from the international community.
Japan's prime minister says he will boost efforts to restart commercial whaling, despite a top UN court's order that Tokyo must stop killing whales in the Antarctic.Shinzo Abe's comments to parliament put him on a collision course with anti...

Japan's announcement that it wants to resume commercial whaling for scientific research has been rubbished by Greenpeace as a "senseless" decision that flouts international law.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary commission he will boost efforts to restart commercial whaling, AFP reported on Tuesday.

"I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources," Mr Abe said.

His comments come after a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in April which found Japan's whaling program was not scientific as claimed, and ordered it to stop killing whales in the Antarctic.

Greenpeace says it is surprised Tokyo would act in contempt of international law.

"It is slightly worrying because Japan likes to be seen as a good international citizen and doesn't usually like to flout international law," the organisation's New Zealand director, Bunny McDiarmid, told AAP.

"It was a very strong recommendation that you would think Japan would pay critical attention to."

The environmental group believes the Japanese government is being pressured by its floundering whaling industry, which it says receives huge taxpayer-funded subsidies.

"Any comments he's making around the need for the resumption of commercial whaling so that they can study whales is rubbish," Ms McDiarmid said.

READ MORE: Japan whale hunt is rubbish, Greenpeace says

Sunday 6 Apr 2014
A whaling fleet has anchored at Shimonoseki port in western Japan.
A whaling fleet has anchored at a Japanese port after Tokyo said it would cancel its annual hunt for the first time in more than 25 years to abide by a UN court ruling."The Nisshin Maru and two other whaling ships arrived here today after ending...
Friday 4 Apr 2014

Japan's online commerce giant Rakuten's President Hiroshi Mikitani (AAP)

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten says it has told online retailers to stop selling whale meat after a UN court ordered an end to the country's Antarctic whale hunt.

The move - which also includes a ban on dolphin meat sales - comes as Japan said on Thursday it was cancelling this year's hunt for the first time in more than a quarter of a century to abide by the decision of the United Nations' Hague-based International Court of Justice this week.

Australia, backed by New Zealand, hauled Japan before the international court in 2010 in a bid to stop the yearly campaign, which has attracted widespread condemnation outside Japan.

"We issued a notice to all stores on April 1, asking them to stop sales of whale meat products by the end of the month," a Rakuten spokeswoman said.

"We made the decision ... following the ruling by the International Court of Justice and a subsequent comment by the Japanese government that it will obey the ruling," she added.

The notice was issued to about 42,000 online shops that operate on Rakuten's digital marketplace, she said, adding the company did not have a figure for how many sold whale meat.

A search of the site on Friday turned up about 700 listings for whale meat products. There were no listings for dolphin meat.

Tokyo had been widely criticised for using a legal loophole in a 1986 whaling ban that allowed it to continue slaughtering the mammals, ostensibly so it could gather scientific data.

However, it has never made a secret of the fact that whale meat from these hunts often ended up on dining tables.

Rakuten's move to ban the sale of whale-meat products appeared to go above and beyond the ruling, which said that Japan's hunt in the Southern Ocean was a commercial activity disguised as science.

The judgment did not affect whales hunted as part of Japan's coastal whaling program or in the north Pacific.

Thursday 3 Apr 2014

Japan is cancelling its next Antarctic whaling hunt for the first timein more than 25 years, an official says, just days after the UN'sInternational Court of Justice ordered an end to the controversialpractice.

"We have decided to cancel research whaling (in the Antarctic) for the fiscal year starting in April because of the recent ruling," a fisheries agency official said on Thursday.

But he added that "we plan to go ahead with research whaling in other areas as scheduled", including the northern Pacific.

On Monday, the Hague-based ICJ issued a landmark ruling that found the Antarctic program was a commercial activity disguised as science, and said Tokyo must revoke existing whaling licences.

Australia, backed by New Zealand, hauled Japan before the ICJ in
2010 in a bid to end the annual Southern Ocean hunt.

Tokyo has used a legal loophole in the 1986 ban on commercial whaling that allowed it to continue slaughtering the mammals, ostensibly so it could gather scientific data.

However, it has never made a secret of the fact that the whale meat from these hunts can end on dining tables.

Japan also has a coastal whaling program that is not covered by the ban.

The next Antarctic hunt would have started in late 2014. The most recent finished last month.

Tuesday 1 Apr 2014

Australia has been vindicated in its move to take Japan to court over whaling. The United Nations' highest court ruled that the killing of whales was not for scientific purposes. Japan accepted the decision - but didn't rule out the possibility of abandoning international whaling agreements altogether.

Australia's relationship with Japan remains strong amid the debate over whaling, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

Addressing media in Perth on Tuesday, Mr Abbott said Australia and Japan had a strong relationship which was "much, much, much bigger" than the case in the International Court of Justice.

The United Nations' Hague-based court ruled that Japan's whaling program was a commercial activity disguised as science and said it must revoke existing whaling licences.

Tokyo said it would honour the ruling, handed down on Monday.

Mr Abbott said he was looking forward to his trip to Japan next week.

Shorten welcomes whaling ban

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has welcomed the decision by the UN's top court to declare Japan's Southern Ocean whaling program illegal.
The decision by an international court to declare Japan's Southern Ocean whale hunt illegal was a vindication of Labor's decision to take the original court action, federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.The International Court of Justice ...