Japan to defend "research whaling" as legal at int'l court

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that Japan will argue at the upcoming international court session in The Hague that its so-called scientific research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean is conducted in accordance with international law.

The oral hearings starting Wednesday and scheduled to run through July 16 are the final phase in proceedings at the International Court of Justice in a case brought in 2010 by Australia.

Canberra argues that Japan's whaling program is a cover for commercial whaling and is in breach of its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

"In the proceedings, we intend to steadily claim that our country's research whaling is scientific whaling conducted lawfully on the basis of Article 8" of the convention, Kishida told a news conference.

Article 8, which permits whaling for purposes of scientific research, forms the basis of Japan's whaling program.

Fisheries minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told a separate news conference that Japan will abide by the court's ruling when it is given, noting that both Japan and Australia would naturally be bound by it.