A U.N. court ordered Monday for Japan to stop its controversial Antarctic whaling program, one Japan claims is solely for research purposes. We'd like to warn you, some of the footage in this story might be disturbing.
The Australian government brought the suit against Japan back in 2010 — claiming Japan was catching too many whales for its so-called research program using a loophole to get around a worldwide ban on the practice. (Via BBC)
But Japan argued, according to the BBC, Australia was "trying to impose its cultural norms on Japan," whose cuisine traditionally includes whale meat.
The meat from the captured whales was reportedly being sold commercially in Japan, but Japan says that meat is only a byproduct of its research program.
The International Court of Justice sided with Australia and found Japan has not only been catching and killing minke whales under the guise of research but also issuing licenses for hunting humpback and fin whales in a whale sanctuary. (Via NHK, The New York Times)
According to The Wall Street Journal, Japan fears any attempts to shut down its whaling practices in the Antarctic would open up the possibility of blocking its fishing access from other parts of the world or from other fishing industries.
But Japan says it will abide by the ruling regardless, and the decision is seen as a success for many environmental groups such as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose anti-whaling campaigns involved blocking Japanese ships from the area and preventing them from easily catching whales in the Southern Ocean. (Via Discovery / "Whale Wars")
But escalating tensions between the two sides have turned dangerous when Japanese ships reportedly began retaliating by attacking activist ships and throwing hooks at crew members. (Via The Sydney Morning Herald)
The ruling committee says Japan has killed about 3,600 minke whales since its research program began in 2005.