Japan has told the UN’s top court that Australia and New Zealand’s anti-whaling stance is part of a “civilising mission and moral crusade” that is totally out of place in the modern world. Tokyo didn’t hold back in its opening submission to the 16 judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague earlier today. “The days of civilising missions and moral crusades are over,” lawyer Payam Akhavan told the court. “In a world with diverse civilisations and traditions, international law cannot become an instrument for imposing the cultural preference of some at the expense of others.”
Canberra last week argued Japan’s JARPA research program was cloaking ongoing commercial whaling in the lab coat of science.It therefore breached the 1946 whaling convention, which only allows harpooning “for purposes of scientific research”, Australia said. Australia’s case at the IJC is being supported by New Zealand.
But Japan’s deputy foreign affairs minister, Koji Tsuruoka, hit back on Tuesday by insisting Tokyo was conducting a “comprehensive scientific research program” whose aim was to demonstrate that commercial whaling could be sustainable.
“The lifting of the (1982) moratorium requires that convincing scientific data be presented,” Mr Tsuruoka said. The deputy foreign minister argued Japan had long lived in harmony with nature and it would be the last country to misuse marine resources. “Australia can’t impose its will on other nations nor change the International Whaling Commission (IWC) into an organisation opposed to whaling,” he said…
Australia’s agent, Bill Campbell, QC, said he had expected Tokyo to put its case in a forthright manner. “Ultimately we get an opportunity to respond and we’ll be responding in a forthright manner,” he told AAP after Tuesday’s hearing.
Mr Campbell didn’t want to comment extensively on Tokyo’s “emotive arguments”, but he said the ICJ case was a legal matter involving scientific principles and it should be decided accordingly. Japan also disputes the court’s jurisdiction to even hear the matter. Tokyo wants to invoke a reservation relating to disputes concerning “maritime zones” because its whaling activity takes place near Antarctic waters claimed by Australia. New Zealand’s Attorney-General Chris Finlayson will make a 90-minute submission to the court on July 8. He was to hear Japan’s submissions before putting forward New Zealand’s case.