UN court orders Japan to stop whaling program

Australia, activists hail UN court verdict on Japan's annual whaling hunt http://t.co/ppddduisAh pic.twitter.com/8a2EpFZzFR

— SBS News (@SBSNews) March 31, 2014

Japan has been ordered to immediately halt whaling off Antarctica, after the United Nations’ International Court of Justice voted on Monday, 12 to 4, against Japan’s JARPA II special permits, which are issued for scientific research.

Japan has killed as many as 3,600 minke whales and issued permits for hunting humpback and fin whales within the Whale Sanctuary since the issuing of JARPA II permits in 2005, The New York Times reports, breaching its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. Not only does Japan lack significant scientific results from their so-called studies, but the ruling also suggested that Japan has been exploiting the species possibly for other reasons.

“Moreover, the taking of whales, especially in considerable numbers, could be viewed as a form of exploitation of a maritime area even if this occurs according to a programme for scientific research,” the ICJ ruling said.

Video by Associated Press

Australia has been a strong opponent against commercial whaling since the country outlawed it in 1979. It sued Japan in 2010, accusing that it had taken advantage of certain loopholes and violated international obligations.

Since the ruling is binding, Japan cannot appeal and would have to immediately freeze its whaling program.

Correspondent Brett Mason for Australia’s SBS News live-tweeted the reactions to the ICJ ruling from The Hague, Netherlands:

Japan "regrets and is deeply disappointed" by the ICJ's decision "but as a state that respects international law we will abide by ruling"

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) March 31, 2014

Sea Shepherd activist at ICJ nearly in tears. Says today is one of the best days of his life.

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) March 31, 2014

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