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Australia Launches New Protest Against Japanese Whale Hunt

  • VOA News

FILE - Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru No. 2 sails in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica.

FILE - Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru No. 2 sails in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica.

Australia is threatening to take legal action against Japan over its resumption of its controversial whale hunt in the Antarctic Ocean.

A Japanese whaling fleet set sail last week for the Antarctic, ignoring international condemnation and last year's ruling by the International Court of Justice that rejected Tokyo's claims that the annual hunts are merely for scientific purposes.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Environment Minister Greg Hunt issued a joint statement Monday saying Canberra is "working with other like-minded nations to build international consensus" against Japan's whaling program.

Tokyo says it is planning to kill 333 minke whales this season.

The IWC banned commercial whaling in 1986.

Despite Tokyo's claims the whale hunts are strictly scientific, whale meat routinely appears on store shelves.

Australia filed a lawsuit against Tokyo in the International Court of Justice in 2010. The court issued a ruling last year rejecting Tokyo's claims, prompting Japan to suspend the whaling mission.

FILE - Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), looks at his computer during a press conference in Tokyo, Nov. 28, 2014.

FILE - Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), looks at his computer during a press conference in Tokyo, Nov. 28, 2014.

Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission, defended his country's plans to resume its annual hunt.

"We did our best to try to meet the criteria established by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and we have decided to implement our research plan, because we are now confident that we completed the scientific homework as well as we are now meeting the ICJ judgment requirement," said Morishita.

Australia says it is considering sending vessels to the region to shadow the Australian fleet. The environmental group Sea Shepherd says it is sending a boat to the Antarctic to pursue and disrupt the Japanese whalers, as it has done over the past decade.

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