Australian government and environmentalist groups are opposing Japan’s decision to resume whaling in the Antarctic Ocean by the end of March next year.
Local media have quoted Environment Minister Greg Hunt as saying that Japan cannot unilaterally decide to start whaling against a ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and against the advice of scientists.
The United Nations top legal body ruled in March last year that Japan's decades-old whale hunt in the Antarctic should stop, since Tokyo had used scientific research to disguise the commercial hunt.
Japan’s fisheries agency notified the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Friday that the country would resume whaling in the 2015-16 season under a revised plan, cutting annual whale catches by two-thirds to 333 this session.
The commission is reviewing Japan's revised plan and has raised serious concerns about its scientific argument.
"Australia strongly opposes the decision by Japan to resuming whaling in the Southern Ocean this summer," Hunt said on Saturday, adding that "Japan cannot unilaterally decide whether it has adequately addressed the scientific committee's questions."
Australia will continue to pursue the issue through IWC and in direct discussions with Japan, Hunt said, while other Australian top official have stated their country’s position in direct talks with Japanese officials.