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ICJ opens hearings in Japan whaling dispute

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] on Wednesday began public hearings in the ongoing legal dispute between Australia and Japan over Japanese whaling near Antarctica. Australia argued [AFP report] at Wednesday's hearing that Japan is in violation of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling [materials] by continuing to hunt whales as scientific research in spite of a ban on commercial whaling by the International Whaling Commission [official website]. Public hearings for this case are scheduled to proceed until July 16.

This case has been ongoing since June 2010, when the Australian government filed a complaint [JURIST report] against Japan to seek an injunction against "scientific whaling" in the Southern Ocean. The complaint alleged that Japan had continued to pursue large-scale whaling under Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic ("JARPA II"), and had thus breached its "good faith" obligation to limit the killing of whales for commercial purposes to zero. Australia filed a complaint with the ICJ [JURIST report] against Japan for its whaling practices in May 2011. In November 2012 New Zealand announced [JURIST report] that it would support Australia in its battle against Japanese whaling practices. Commercial whaling has been banned by the International Whaling Commission since 1986.

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