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Day 1: WDC on Australia vs. Japan at the ICJ

“It simply is not science“

First round of oral hearing at ICJ begins with Australia outlining its case against Japan regarding so called scientific whaling in the Antarctic

At the beginning of the hearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Australia has given an introduction to the case it’s going to make in its to challenge to the so-called scientific whaling carried out by Japan in the Southern Ocean.

After highlighting the “positive, deep and multidimensional relationship” between Australia and Japan, the agent and council of Australia, Mr. Campbell, made it clear that resolving the dispute over whaling in the Antarctic between Japan and Australia the Court would only serve to “enhance the deep relationship” between the two nations.

Australia makes the point that in the past it has persistently objected to so  ‘scientific whaling’ in the Southern Ocean and had asked Japan repeatedly to cease its whaling programs in the Antarctic, JARPA and JARPA II.

Mr. Campbell pointed out that the environment is a common resource that needs to be safeguarded by collective actions and regulations. Unilateral action threatens such collective responsibility – and Japanese “scientific” whaling is a blatant example of such unilateral action.

Japan’s actions threaten 83,000 whales annually

The Court was asked to imagine each of the 89 contracting parties to the Whaling convention acting the same way as Japan and threatening to take the same number of minke whales in the Antarctic. More than 83,000 whales would be killed and – in Japan’s view – these 89 sets of decisions would be incontestable. Yet this would clearly be catastrophic in the view of conservation.

Ongoing commercial whaling cloaked as science

Australia’s Solicitor-General Mr. Gleeson explains why JARPA II fails to exhibit essential characteristics required for it to be called science but rather qualifies its whaling as commercial:

The sheer scale and repetition speak of an operation commercial in nature and defeats the objects and purposes of the 1946 convention. Furthermore he highlights the fact of continuity: Japan continues to carry on the commercial operation it previously embarked upon with similar boats, similar crews and techniques and provides the same supply of whale products to the market. Also, Japan didn’t seem to have a great need for lethal research prior to the moratorium on commercial whaling from 1986 and no other nation before or since has found the need for scientific research on this scale.

Mr. Gleeson furthermore highlights that even though the demand for meat in Japan is falling the political goal remains to maintain a whaling industry through production of products for sale and such sales are used to fund the ongoing operations. “To service a market is evidence for commerce”, he concludes. Also, lethal research methods should always be a matter of last resort, not a first option as Japan holds it.

– “I do not think there will be any kind of an end for whaling by Japan” (Japanese Minister, 2013)

After the moratorium had come into effect and Japan had withdrawn its initial objection because of pressure from the US it stated that it would continue whaling in “this form or the other”. In the very next Antarctic whaling season JARPA I commenced. Quotes from several Japanese politicians were presented by Australia in order to underpin the true intentions of the Japanese so called “scientific whaling programmes”.

“After the moratorium commences the path to ensure the continuation for Southern Ocean Whaling is to position it as a research whaling activity which has a scientific nature (..)” (Mr Sano, 1984)

Australia also made clear that Japan has failed to comply with the ICRW in the way it issues the special permits laid out in Article 8 of the convention. These permits shall be special permits and not ordinary which means they must not be used to establish large scale ongoing whaling operations for years and decades. Furthermore Australia has critizised the fact that Japan has only predetermined the method of killing and the number of whales and the period of time but no more.

Conservation and recovery of whale population’s are the main principles of the ICRW

At the end of the morning session Australia pointed out that conservation and recovery of whales has always been and will always be the main principles of the ICRW and refers to the preamble text of the Convention.
They note that over time, subsequent actions of the IWC have constantly stressed the importance of conservation established in the 1946 regime – “which seems to be ignored by Japan”.