Japan’s decision to resume whaling in the 2015-2016 season

On 31st March 2014 the UN’s International Court of Justice – in its legally binding decision – ruled that Japan’s state-subsidized whale-hunting in the Southern Ocean did not fall within the scope of scientific research and therefore was considered illegal. In spite of the ruling, Japan has recently resumed whaling, exploiting a loophole that allows for a limited amount of hunting for scientific purposes.

Even though there has been a moratorium on commercial whaling since 1982, there is still supply of whale meat in Japan due to imports and the sale of the meat that was hunted on scientific missions. However, the hunting of whales could not be justified by the alleged strong cultural attachment to whale meat, either – which was popular in the post-war period since it was a cheap source of protein-, as, according to research conducted by Greenpeace, whale meat consumption in Japan amounted to about 30 grams per person on average in 2015 (whereas the stockpile of unsold frozen whale meat totalled up to 5900 tons in 2011).

Following the suggestion of Greenpeace, activism from within Japan should be combined with international pressure. Therefore, I urge the European Instutitions and the Member States to  take action and firmly step up against this out-dated and illegal practice.