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What The U.S. State Department Really Thinks Of Japan's 'Scientific' Whaling

<p>Flickr/Richard Fisher</p>

Just a day after news broke that Japan would defy an international court ruling and target minke whales in the Antarctic, the U.S. is unofficially speaking out.

Kyoto News International [paywall] got hold of an official from the U.S. State Department, who commented on his country's stance on Japan's renewed plans for Antarctic whaling:

"We continue to view lethal scientific research as unnecessary in modern whale conservation and management. We encourage Japan to take this view into account when developing future research programs."

Japan will be attending the International Whaling Commission starting Sept. 15, where it's expected to announce a renewed minke whale hunt, narrowing the catch from previous years by excluding hunts for humpback and fin whales.

This isn't the first time the U.S. has condemned Japan's hunts for marine mammals. Last January, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy expressed her disapproval of the annual dolphin hunts that go on in Taiji, Japan:

As a member state of the IWC, the U.S. does not participate in commercial whaling, though it allows for some subsistence whaling by indigenous Alaskan communities. While Japan is also a member of the IWC, it conducts hunts under a loophole of the 1986 global moratorium on whaling that allows for "scientific research."

Last March, the International Court of Justice ruled that the country's Antarctic whaling program was "unscientific" and ordered it to halt.

The U.S. is likely not the only country that will voice opposition to the renewed hunt. IWC has 88 member countries - 49 of which outspokenly oppose whaling. Australia and New Zealand have voiced strong opposition to whaling in the past, and even brought the court case to the ICJ in an attempt to stop it. It remains to be seen how the international community will react to Japan's plans - but if history tells us anything, they won't be well-received.