Japan shrugs off embarrassing court loss, vows resumption of Antarctic whaling
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) - An embarrassing court ruling that halted Japan's Antarctic whaling will actually help Tokyo take whales in the name of science, a top whaling official said just a day after the prime minister vowed to press for commercial whaling.
Tokyo's decades-old and disputed "scientific whaling" program suffered a blow in March when the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in a surprise ruling, ordered a halt to annual hunts in the Southern Ocean.
Though Japan abandoned its Antarctic hunt for this year, it immediately vowed to retool its research program with an eye to resuming it as early as the 2015-2016 season, and eventually to resume commercial whaling as well.
It is carrying out a scaled-down version of its less known Northern Pacific hunt.
The court ruling was actually good for Japan by upholding the legal basis for whaling, said Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
"The assumption of the court is that Japan could ... look at a new research plan," Morishita told a news conference in Tokyo.
"And that it's okay for Japan to propose a new plan which involves killing whales as long as it takes account of the reasoning and conclusions set by the ICJ at this time."
Though anti-whaling nations say the IWC should be acting to conserve whales, Japan and its allies argue that it was set up to manage whales as a resource, a stance Morishita said the court supported by saying the IWC's purpose remains the same. Continued...