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Japan to resume Antarctic whaling under 'revised plan'

Japan has announced plans to resume whaling in the Antarctic next year for what it says are research purposes. It suspended its whale hunt last year for a season after the top UN court ruled it should stop.

Japan defended its plan to resume whaling in the Antactic Ocean by the end of March next year, saying it would take place under a plan that was "scientifically reasonable."

In its notification to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) on Friday, the Japanese Fisheries Agency said whale hunters would operate according to a "revised plan" that envisaged cutting annual minke whale catches by two-thirds to 333.

The move, which is likely to provoke an international outcry, goes against a ruling by the International Court of Justice in March last year that said Japan's "scientific" whaling activities in the Antarctic were a cover for a commercial hunt and ordered them to stop. Japan still sent whaling ships to the Southern Ocean in the 2014/2015 season, but they returned with no catch.

Legal loophole

Japan introduced "scientific whaling" in 1987 after whaling was placed under an international moratorium in 1987. It has never concealed the fact that meat from the whales that are killed purportedly in the name of research finds its way onto people's plates.

It argues that the population of whales is large enough to allow sustainable whaling.

The IWC called on Japan in June to provide a scientifically-based justification for its plan to kill almost 4,000 minke whales in the Antarctic over the next 12 years. Japan says whaling opponents take an emotional stance and disregard evidence that justifies the hunt.

tj/jlw (AFP, Reuters)

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