Australia has threatened Japan with diplomatic action unless it stops its whaling programme in the Southern Ocean, a program which Tokyo calls a “scientific expedition”.
Tony Burke, Australia’s environment minister, condemned Japan’s whaling project on Saturday. He said that calling the program a scientific research is “a joke”.
Australia has criticized Japan’s whaling fleet in regional waters for a long time and has even started legal actions against the whaling program at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2010. “I do not expect a response from the ICJ until sometime next year”, Burke said.
“In the interim it is open to Japan any day of the year to take the same action that the rest of world has taken and that is to observe a moratorium in the Southern Ocean. That is to accept that commercial whaling is wrong and scientific whaling is a joke,” he said.
“We cannot continue to have a situation where everybody knows it’s nothing to do with science and yet, with a nod and a wink, Japanese fleets travel from one side of the globe to the other to engage in this, and to break the moratorium year after year,” Burke added.
Kyodo news agency reported on Friday that three whaling vessels had left the western Japanese port of Shimonoseki.