In March, the ICJ ruled that the Japanese whaling program was not as "scientific" as initially claimed. The Japanese government defended the scientific objectives of its whaling industry, insisting that capturing whales allowed for the monitoring of the Antarctic ecosystem, detecting changes in whale populations, and managing minke whale stocks. However, it was soon revealed that the planned sample sizes of 850 minke whales, 50 fin whales, and 50 humpback whales were not only arbitrary, but also differed greatly from the actual number of whales captured each year. Moreover, the scientific permit that requires whale meat to be used (granted by Japan itself) meant that the meat was quickly sold on to shops and restaurants. Under Australia's leadership, the court concluded that the planned scientific program did not match the realities of the whaling industry in Japan and therefore violated the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
The ruling was considered a victory for the conservationists, but it failed to completely close the loophole that continuously allows whaling for scientific purposes, as in Norway and Iceland for instance. This means that if Japan was to put together a program that satisfies the requirements of the court, it will be allowed to continue hunting whales whose populations have been in danger since the 1930s.
Indeed, Japanese government officials have recently proposed plans to resume the killing of whales, with the condition that fewer and only minke whales, the second smallest species of baleen whale with a characteristic white band on each flipper, will be targeted. The proposal is to be announced at the International Whaling Commission's meeting later this month and officially submitted to the IWC's scientific committee in November.