Japan is canceling its next Antarctic whaling hunt for the first time in more than 25 years, an official said Thursday, just days after the U.N. International Court of Justice ordered an end to the controversial practice.
“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 told reporters, adding that whaling programs in other regions would be unaffected.
“We plan to go ahead with research whaling in other areas as scheduled”, including the northern Pacific, the source said.
On Monday, the Hague-based ICJ issued a landmark ruling that found the Antarctic program was a commercial activity disguised as science, and said that Tokyo must revoke existing whaling licenses.
The case was brought to the ICJ in 2010 by Australia, backed by New Zealand, in a bid to end the annual Southern Ocean hunt.
Tokyo had made use of a legal loophole in the 1986 ban on commercial whaling that allowed it to continue slaughtering the mammals, purportedly for the purpose of gathering scientific data.
However, the government 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, while the most recent finished last month.