News / Asia

    Australia Urges UN Court to Ban Japan Whale Hunt

    Attorney General of Australia Mark Dreyfus (far left) shakes hands with Japanese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Koji Tsuruoka (second left) at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, June 26, 2013.
    Attorney General of Australia Mark Dreyfus (far left) shakes hands with Japanese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Koji Tsuruoka (second left) at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, June 26, 2013.
    Phil Mercer
    The International Court of Justice in the Hague hears opening arguments Wednesday in Australia's case against Japan's whaling program in the Southern Ocean. The Australian government  is hopeful court action will stop Japan's annual hunt, but Tokyo is expected to mount a vigorous defense of its whaling program.

    Australia started legal action against Japan’s annual hunt in the Southern Ocean in 2010 to stop what it calls the “illegal” and “unnecessary slaughter” of thousands of whales in the icy waters of the Antarctic. 

    Canberra says the hunt breaches international laws, including a global moratorium on commercial whaling, and has no relevance to marine conservation.

    Japan maintains that its activities are legal and have genuine scientific and cultural objectives. It has granted itself a “scientific permit,” which is permissible under rules drawn up by the International Whaling Commission.

    If the court sides with Australia, the justices could order Japan to scale back its whaling operations to the point where they are no longer viable. 

    “Ultimately, Australia really wants to stop the annual whale [hunt]," said Professor Donald Rothwell from the Australian National University. "But even if it does get a decision out of the court in which the court puts a number on the whales that can be taken by Japan for scientific research purposes, that number may be so small that it just makes it completely economically unfeasible for Japan to continue its current whaling operation.” 

    There has been a ban on commercial whale hunting for a quarter of a century, but Japan aims to catch about 1,000 whales each year for what it calls research.

    Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the hunt is an essential way to conduct surveys of “biological parameters," such as the age composition, sexual maturity and pregnancy rate” of whales.  Critics argue there is little more Japan can conclude about sustainable whale populations after carrying out its research in the decades since the international moratorium was established.

    Officials in Tokyo also stress there are compelling cultural reasons for the annual hunt, which they say is of” socio-economic significance” to some of the Japanese small coastal communities hit by the ban on commercial hunting.

    Japan also insists its whaling operations are ecologically sustainable, and it does not hide the fact that the resulting meat is sold commercially. Tokyo defends the practice of eating whale meat as a culinary tradition. Sales proceeds partially pay for the whaling program.

    Australia will be supported by New Zealand at the International Court of Justice.  Experts say its decision, which could come by the end of the year, will be legally binding.

    The annual hunt in the Southern Ocean has also seen increasingly heated confrontations between the whaling fleet and conservationists in recent years.

    Court papers say Japan killed some 6,500 Antarctic minke whales between 1987 and 2005, after the moratorium came into effect, compared to 840 whales for research purposed in the 31 years prior to the moratorium.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.