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Japan ordered to halt whaling program

By The Associated Press

This article was published March 31, 2014 at 6:48 a.m.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Court of Justice on Monday ordered a temporary halt to Japan's Antarctic whaling program, ruling that it is not for scientific purposes as the Japanese had claimed.

Australia had sued Japan at the U.N.'s highest court for resolving disputes between nations in hopes of ending whaling in the icy Southern Ocean.

Reading a 12-4 decision by the court's 16-judge panel, Presiding Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia said Japan's program failed to justify the large number of minke whales it aims to catch under its current Antarctic program: 850 annually. It also failed to catch nearly that number, and didn't come closing to catching the 50 fin and 50 humpback whales it also aimed to take.

All that drew into doubt whether Japan's assertion that its whaling is for scientific purposes, he said.

"The evidence does not establish that the program's design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives," Tomka said.

The court ordered Japan to halt any issuing of whaling permits until the program has been revamped.

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