The Japanese government said Friday it will aim to resume its whaling in the Antarctic from next fiscal year despite a U.N. court ordering Tokyo last month to halt its program there, igniting criticism from the international community.
Tokyo has announced it will not conduct whaling in the Antarctic this fiscal year, which started April 1, under the current program, abiding by the March 31 International Court of Justice ruling. But the government said it will submit a new whaling program to the International Whaling Commission by this fall.
"We have come to the conclusion (to continue whaling) after carefully examining the ruling," Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.
Japan's decision "reflects what the (ICJ's) judgment pointed out, and we would like to sincerely explain that to each country," he added.
Japan's eventual goal is to resume commercial whaling. What Tokyo calls "research whaling" is aimed at collecting scientific data to prove that catching whales commercially would not dent sustainable use of the whale stocks.
The government also decided to continue its whaling in the Pacific Ocean this fiscal year, with whalers set to depart later this month.
In the Pacific Ocean, the government plans to reduce the number of whales caught in an attempt to win support from the international community.
In fiscal 2014, Tokyo will slash the figure to 210 whales from 380 caught last year, based on "recent statistical data," a farm ministry official said.
The official also said that purposes of so-called research whaling have been narrowed down.
Tokyo's decision to review the program comes as the ICJ ruling pointed out that sample sizes of whales taken by Japan were "not driven by strictly scientific considerations," saying the country's whaling violated a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling.
Although the ICJ ruling only applies to the Antarctic Sea, Tokyo was considering whether it should also stop whaling in the Pacific, given strong criticism from antiwhaling countries such as Australia and the United States.
Japanese whalers are expected to leave a port in northeastern Japan on April 26 to conduct whaling in the Pacific Ocean off the Japanese coast. The departure had been initially planned for Tuesday next week but was put off due to prolonged discussion in the government over the matter.
In May 2010, Australia, one of the most vocal countries against whaling, lodged a case with the ICJ aimed at halting Japan's whaling in the Antarctic.