The Abbott government has been warned it must ensure that Japan abides by an International Court of Justice ban on Antarctic whaling after lawmakers in Tokyo passed a resolution effectively rejecting the judgment.
A Japanese cross-party fisheries committee demanded Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government circumvent the court ruling that last month found the Antarctic hunt, called JARPA II, breached International Whaling Commission rules for scientific research.
The committee urged the government to find a way to continue whaling ”so as to play a responsible role as the only country in the world with a scientific approach”.
It followed Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi telling a whale meat tasting event that he was determined to ”maintain the solid policy of preserving whale-eating culture and securing of whale meat”.
Standing in front of a poster featuring the traditional rising sun, a harpoon ship and a humpback whale, Mr Hayashi said Japan must protect its whale hunts and diet as a cultural tradition. Plans to hunt migratory Australian humpbacks inflamed opposition to the Japanese program in 2005, and helped to spark the international court case.
Although Japan annually issued a 50 humpback kill quota even to last summer, it was ”suspended” each time.
In Australia, opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said both Japan and Australia were responsible nations committed to the rule of law and it was up to the Abbott government to ensure the court’s decision was upheld.
But Environment Minister Greg Hunt said that given the strength of the court order the prospect of the International Whaling Commission approving any further whaling was quite low.
In Tokyo, the fisheries committee demanded that the government quickly draw up a plan to replace JARPA II with a new program and provide whale meat, which it described as a ”byproduct of research whaling” as before.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was scheduled to meet Mr Hayashi and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday to decide whether to reduce the whaling program, according to the Japan Times.