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The International Court of Justice in The Hague said Tuesday it will deliver a judgment March 31 on a case lodged by Australia seeking to halt Japan's whaling in the Antarctic.
Since decisions by the ICJ are binding and final without appeal, Japan may be forced to change its whaling program depending on the ruling by the United Nations court.
The focus of the case has been whether Japan's whaling program conducted in the Antarctic Ocean can be considered scientific research recognized by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, as Tokyo claims.
Australia argues that Japan's whaling program is a cover for commercial whaling in breach of its obligations under the international convention.
Australia took Japan to the ICJ in May 2010, with anti-whaling New Zealand joining the suit as a third party in November 2012. Oral proceedings began in June 2013 and concluded in July that year.
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