AFP/The Hague


Australia will fire the opening salvoes in a legal battle before the UN’s highest court in June to try to stop Japan’s whale hunt in Antarctica.

“The International Court of Justice... will hold public hearings in the case concerning whaling in the Antarctic, Australia versus Japan, from Wednesday June 26 ,” the Hague-based ICJ said in a statement Thursday.

Canberra took Tokyo to court on May 31, 2010, alleging “Japan’s continued pursuit” of a large-scale whaling hunt, which Japan calls scientific research, put the nation in breach of international conventions and its obligation to preserve marine mammals and their environment. Unlike Norway and Iceland, which openly flout the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling agreed through the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Japan hunts exploit a loophole that allows lethal scientific research. Japan’s annual whale hunt has long drawn worldwide criticism but Tokyo defends the practice, saying eating whale is a culinary tradition.

In Sydney yesterday, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who will appear before the court, said in a statement: “Australia wants this slaughter to end.

“We will now have our day in court to establish, once and for all, that Japan’s whaling hunt is not for scientific purposes and is against international law.”

His statement went on: “The fixing of the date sets up the final stage in this case brought by the Australian Government. The oral hearings are the last phase of legal proceedings before the Court makes its decision.

“We hope the court will deliver its decision on the legality of Japan’s whaling before the start of the next whaling season.”

Both parties have already made written submissions.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said: “Australia’s views on whaling are well known—we condemn all commercial whaling, including Japan’s so-called ‘scientific’ whaling.


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