Japan is seeking international support for its plans to hunt minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year by scaling down the whaling research program the U.N. top court rejected earlier this year, fisheries officials said Wednesday.
Whaling for research purposes is exempt from the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling, and Japan has conducted hunts in the Antarctic and Pacific on that basis. But in March, the International Court of Justice ruled the Antarctic program wasn't scientific as Japan had claimed and must stop.
Japan's Fisheries Agency is working on a revised program to be submitted to the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee around November. The agency will announce its intention and basic plan at the Sept. 15-18 IWC meeting in Slovenia and will continue to finalize catch targets and other details over the next few weeks.
The new program will address the problems cited by the court, an agency official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. The court said Japan's Antarctic program produced little actual research and failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales for the study.
Approval from the IWC's scientific committee isn't mandatory, but any attempt by Japan to resume whaling would be likely to face intense scrutiny over whether it complies with the court ruling.