• Reuters


Japan is considering scrapping a Northwest Pacific whale hunt just days before the fleet’s planned departure, media said on Thursday, as the government grapples with its response to an international court ruling against its main whale hunt.

In a blow to Tokyo’s decades-old and disputed “scientific whaling” program, the International Court of Justice last month ordered a halt to its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean, prompting Japan to cancel its 2014-2015 Antarctic hunt as it pledged to abide by the ruling.

The judgment did not specifically mention Japan’s other whaling hunts, one small-scale one off its coastline and the other across a wide swath of the Northwest Pacific during the spring and summer, which carry a quota of nearly 300 whales.

But Tokyo, trapped between the demands of pro-whaling lawmakers and international pressure from allies such as the United States, is considering calling off the Pacific hunt too, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily said.

“The government is currently racking its brains about whether or not to allow the Northwest Pacific whaling, set to start on April 22, to take place,” the paper said, adding that the timing — with U.S. President Barack Obama scheduled to arrive in Japan on April 23 — was unfortunate.

But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that nothing had been decided. He said earlier this week said a decision about the program would likely come soon.

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