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Japan seeks international support to resume Antarctic whaling

Japan is seeking the support of other countries in order to resume its contentious whale hunting program.

The country was ordered to halt after the International Court of Justice ruled that the hunting of minke whales were not scientific and therefore did not qualify for an exemption under the 1986 ban on commercial whaling.

Japan's Fisheries Agency is working on a revised program to be submitted to International Whaling Commission's (IWC) scientific committee in November.

The agency will announce its basic plan and intention at the September 15-18 IWC meeting in Slovenia. It will continue to finalize catch targets and other important details over the next few weeks.

According to an agency official, the new program will address the problems mentioned by the court. Japan's Antarctic program produced little research and it failed to explain why it required killing so many whales for the research, the court said.

Approval from IWC's scientific committee is not compulsory, however any attempt by the country to resume hunting of minke whales would likely face intense scrutiny over whether it follows the court ruling.

The country has planned to no longer hunt humpback and fin whales, after hardly catching any of those two species in the past 9 years. After achieving its Antarctic catch target of 440 for 17 years, the country more than doubled it to 935 minke whales in the year 2005.

Japan came close to the target only the following year and has fallen since, primarily because the demand for whale meat has reduced significantly at home.