WASHINGTON – A U.S. official urged Japan on Wednesday to reconsider its plan to continue hunting whales for scientific research despite receiving an order to cease by the International Court of Justice.
“We continue to view lethal scientific research as unnecessary in modern whale conservation and management,” an official of the State Department said on condition of anonymity.
“We encourage Japan to take this view into account when developing future research programs,” the official said.
Japan is set to notify the International Whaling Commission that it plans to continue its so-called research whaling but intends to reduce the numbers it catches and the species hunted.
Tokyo is considering telling the IWC annual convention starting Sept. 15 in Slovenia that it will catch only minke whales and give up hunting humpbacks and fin whales, according to Japanese government sources.
Japan has been conducting what it calls research whaling in the Antarctic and the northwestern Pacific for several years to seek evidence to end a moratorium on commercial whaling that the IWC adopted in 1982. But the ICJ banned that type of whaling in the Antarctic in March after debunking Japan’s science claims. This prompted Japan to halt the activity until the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2015, and reduce its catches in the northwestern Pacific, which is not covered by the ICJ’s order.
The U.S. official said Washington continues to support the moratorium on commercial whaling “as a necessary measure for the conservation of large whales.”
But the official added that the U.S. government will continue to work with Japan in efforts to reform the IWC.