New Zealand led an international protest against Japan’s plans to continue killing whales in the Southern Ocean Monday, while Australia is still mulling over taking Japan to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an effort to stop the killing of whales in the Antarctic.
Prime Minister John Key said that New Zealand’s ambassador to Tokyo delivered a “strong” formal message from 33 countries, including Australia and the United States to Japan, Discovery News reported.
“We consider that there is no scientific basis for the slaughter of whales and strongly urge the government of Japan not to allow it to go ahead,” Key said.
The Australian government announced that they would be joining the 32 “like-minded nations” to protest Japan’s decision to resume hunting the whales.
“The Australian Government does not support what is a deeply disappointing decision by Japan and we will continue to raise our concerns at the highest level of the Japanese Government,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Environment Minister Greg Hunt said. “We are working with other like-minded nations to build international consensus against Japanese whaling. We are also exploring options for further legal action.”
According to an estimate by the World Wide Fund for Nature, Japan has killed more than 8,200 minke whales in the Antarctic since 1986, International Business Times reports.
Tokyo stated last month that it plans to kill 333 minke whales for scientific research this season despite the world’s opposition led by New Zealand and Australia. The fleet’s decision to get back out on the water marked the end of a year-long suspension by a United Nations’ International Court of Justice 2014 ruling, Discovery News reports. The ruling claimed that the annual hunt was a commercial venture masquerading as research.
Tokyo also claims it’s trying to prove the whale population is big enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting and says it needs to kill whales to carry out its research.
Japan has maintained that most species of whale are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its culture, according to IB Times. And any attempt to stop them from hunting are perceived by many of the Japanese as a threat to their tradition and culture.
Joji Morishita, the Japanese representative to the IWC, said to reporters Monday that the world needs to “agree to disagree” on this issue.
“We did our best to try to meet the criteria established by the International Court of Justice, and we have decided to implement our research plan, because we are confident that we completed the scientific homework,” Morishita apparently said. “However, this does not mean that we will take all whales–exactly because we’d like to have sustainable whaling, we’d like to have a healthy whale population.”