After a ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice temporarily halted Japan’s whaling industry in the Antarctic, Japan may consider reducing its catch throughout the region. Japan is one of the few countries left in the world that still practices whaling, and it has been criticized for slaughtering dolphins in towns such as Taiji, collecting whales for “scientific” purposes, and refusing to comply with the International Whaling Commission.

whale, sperm whale, mother and calf, marine mammal

The ruling by the International Court of Justice came after Australia filed a complaint regarding Japan’s program of capturing and killing whales in the Antarctic. Japan maintains that the animals are taken in order to determine the health of the overall population and that the meat is sold for human consumption only after their research has been completed. Now, in order to save the program from extinction, Tokyo may consider drastically lowering its number of catches.

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“We want to accept this from a position that respects the international legal order,” foreign minister Fumio Kishida told the press. “We want to properly consider our country’s response after carefully examining the contents of the ruling.”

After World War II, whale meat was seen as an important source of protein for Japan. Today however, with little consumer demand for marine mammal flesh and a fishing fleet in great need of repair, some see the court ruling as the perfect excuse to scrap the expensive program. Instead of pursing a costly and politically unpopular practice, the country could improve both its international standing and infrastructure by leaving the whales in peace.

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Due to the nation’s strained relationship with the International Whaling Commission, sources believe that it will be difficult for Japan to receive approval for their renewed parameters. While some Japanese politicians see the moratorium as the end of a tradition, others view the decision as a convenient excuse to halt actions that have long drawn bad PR for the country. As far as the whales are concerned, they’ll probably be happy to see another day without a huge, ominous ship on the horizon.

Via The Guardian

Images via Wikicommons user Gabriel Barathieu and the Customs and Border Service of Australia