Australia to Sue Japan Over Whaling
June 1, 2010
Australia said it would begin legal action to stop Japan killing hundreds of whales a year in the name of scientific research, prompting immediate condemnation from Tokyo reports the Associated Foreign Press. Officials said they would lodge documents with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, abandoning diplomacy after repeated threats to sue. Japanese Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu called the announcement "very disappointing", adding that Japan''s "research" was approved under the rules of an international moratorium on commercial whaling. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the government had been unable to find a diplomatic solution to the problem, despite protracted talks and debate within the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Smith denied the action would affect relations with Japan, one of Australia''s top two export markets. New Zealand said it was also considering a case against Japan in the ICJ. Both countries have consistently opposed Japan''s whaling, which it carries out under a loophole in the 1986 international moratorium that allows "lethal research". Tokyo has defended the legality of its program. After months of wrangling, the IWC last month adopted a compromise proposal that would allow Japan, Iceland and Norway to hunt the ocean giants openly if they agree to reduce their catch over 10 years. Australia attacked the compromise, under which Japan''s Antarctic catch would go down to 410 whales next season -- from about 500 this year -- and then 205 in the 2015-2016 season.