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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday Japan will comply with a recent international court ruling that Japan's whaling is not conducted for scientific purposes and that such activity should be stopped, according to a government official.
"It is extremely regrettable and disappointing but Japan will abide by the ruling," Abe was quoted as saying at the premier's office.
He made the remark in a meeting with Koji Tsuruoka, who represented the Japanese government in the case presented to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Tsuruoka told reporters afterward that he, as the one who led the Japanese delegation in the case, had been "sternly reprimanded" by the premier over the outcome.
The ruling was made on Monday in a case lodged by Australia that sought to end Japanese whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.
Also Wednesday, an official of Japan's Fisheries Agency said at a ruling Liberal Democratic Party meeting on whaling that the agency will give up its so-called research whaling program in the Antarctic Ocean for fiscal 2014 because it is no longer feasible given the U.N. court's decision.
Japan, which has continued what it calls "scientific" whaling in the Antarctic Ocean since 1987, insisted that the program is consistent with Article 8 of the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling that permits research whaling.
Japan also argued that selling whale meat is also permitted by the article as it requires any whales taken to be processed as far as practicable.
Following the court ruling, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga released a statement Monday that Japan is "deeply disappointed" by the decision but that it will comply with it as a country "that places great importance on the international legal order and the rule of law."
With the court's judgment, which is binding and final without appeal, Japan's whalers will now be forced to reexamine their whaling program.
Australia says the program is a cover for commercial whaling in violation of obligations under the convention. Commercial whaling has been suspended since a moratorium came into force in 1986.
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