Japanese whaling has been deemed unscientific and was ordered to halt by the UN's International Court of Justice on Monday, marking a significant victory for animal rights campaigners. The court ruled that Japan failed to justify the large number of minke whales it hunts in the Antarctic.
"The evidence does not establish that the program is achieving its stated objectives," said presiding judge in the Hague Peter Tomka, reading a 12-4 decision. "The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales ... are not for purposes of scientific research."
The case is the culmination of a four-year battle waged by the Australian government, which argued that Japan used scientific research as a front for commercial whaling. Tomka ordered Japan to stop whaling "with immediate effect."
The ruling has been heralded by conservationists.
"This is an historic decision which lays to rest, once and for all, the grim travesty of Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling and exposes it to the world as the blatant falsehood it clearly is," Clare Perry, head of the cetaceans campaign at the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency, told the Guardian. "With this ruling, Japan must clearly cease its whaling activities in the Antarctic."