Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary commission he will boost efforts to restart commercial whaling, AFP reported on Tuesday.
“I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources,” Mr Abe said.
His comments come after a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in April which found Japan’s whaling program was not scientific as claimed, and ordered it to stop killing whales in the Antarctic.
Greenpeace says it is surprised Tokyo would act in contempt of international law.
“It is slightly worrying because Japan likes to be seen as a good international citizen and doesn’t usually like to flout international law,” the organisation’s New Zealand director, Bunny McDiarmid, told AAP.
“It was a very strong recommendation that you would think Japan would pay critical attention to.”
The environmental group believes the Japanese government is being pressured by its floundering whaling industry, which it says receives huge taxpayer-funded subsidies.
“Any comments he’s making around the need for the resumption of commercial whaling so that they can study whales is rubbish,” Ms McDiarmid said.
“It’s a pretty senseless thing to do. There’s hardly anyone in Japan that eats whale meat now, and whaling is losing money.”
She was also critical of Mr Abe’s attempt to use culture to justify a commercial practice.
He told the Japanese parliamentary commission it was “regrettable” that this part of their culture was misunderstood.
“Commercial Antarctic whaling operations are not a longstanding part of Japanese culture at all,” Ms McDiarmid said.
“I think he’s being a little disingenuous by lumping those two aspects of Japanese whaling operations into one.”
Australia and New Zealand took Japan to the ICJ in 2010 to stop its whaling expeditions, and the top UN court handed down its landmark ruling in April this year.
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