Japan seeks to resume Antarctic whaling next year

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Japan seeks to resume Antarctic whaling next year
FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2010 file photo released by the Institute of Cetacean Research of Japan, anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd's ship the Bob Barker, right, and the Japanese whaling ship No. 3 Yushin Maru collide in the waters of Antarctica. The international court ruling against Japanese whaling last week may have given the government a convenient political out. In a March 31, 2014 ruling, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to stop granting permits for its Antarctic whaling program, which allowed an annual cull of about 1,000 whales. (AP Photo/Institute of Cetacean Research, File) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2010 file photo made from a video released by the Institute of Cetacean Research of Japan, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's anti-whaling vessel Ady Gil collides with the Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru in the Antarctic. A U.S. federal judge on Thursday, Feb .16, 2012 declined a request from Japanese whalers to immediately restrain the activities of the activist group, popularized on the “Whale Wars” reality TV show. (AP Photo/Institute of Cetacean Research, File) MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALES, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
File - In this March 12, 2010 file photo, Japan's whaling ship Shonan Maru 2 arrives back from the Antarctic with Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune of New Zealnd on board at Harumi pier in Tokyo shortly before Japan's coast guard arrested Bethune for illegally boarding the Japanese ship in February. A quarter-century ban on commercial whaling, one of the world's most successful preservation agreements, could crumble altogether if conservationists cannot persuade Japan to cut back on the tradition it champions. Delegates to a meeting of the International Whaling Commission which starts on Monday, June 21, 2010 in Morocco will consider whether to allow limited commercial hunts if Tokyo stops pursuing whales in a southern sanctuary. (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa, File)
In this Wednesday Jan. 4, 2012 photo released by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activists aboard a boat approach the Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru No. 3 in Antarctic waters. (AP Photo/Institute of Cetacean Research) MANDATORY CREDIT, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's flagship, the "Steve Irwin", with U.S. actress Daryl Hannah and captain Paul Watson on board, leaves Brisbane, Australia on a voyage to disrupt Japanese whalers in Antarctic waters, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. Hannah, an environmental activist, said the whaling industry could be shut down if conservationists worked together and governments enforced anti-whaling laws. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
In this photo released by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, a vessel, rear, operated by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society comes close to the Kaiko Maru, a Japanese whaling ship in the Antarctic Ocean, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. On Friday night, protesters aboard the boat operated by the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd threw the bottles _ containing butyric acid, produced by rancid butter _ at the Kaiko Maru, which is conducting Japan's research whaling program. (AP Photo/The Institute of Cetacean Research, HO) ** MANDATORY CREDIT, EDITORIAL USE ONLY **
In this photo released by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, Steve Irwin, a vessel operated by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society comes close to Kaiko Maru, a Japanese whaling ship in the Antarctic Ocean, Friday, Dec. 26, 2008. On Friday night, protesters aboard the boat operated by the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd threw the bottles _ containing butyric acid, produced by rancid butter _ at the Kaiko Maru, which is conducting Japan's research whaling program. (AP Photo/The Institute of Cetacean Research, HO) ** MANDATORY CREDIT, EDITORIAL USE ONLY **
In this photo released by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Captain Paul Watson and U.S. actor Darryl Hannah stand in front of the Steve Irwin in Brisbane, Australia Monday, Dec. 1, 2008. The Steve Irwin left the Australian east coast city on Thursday to harass the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic Ocean. (AP Photo/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Eric Cheng,HO)**EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO ARCHIVE**
In this photo released by The Institute of Cetacean Research, crew members of the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru No. 2, spray water at activists from the environmental group Sea Shepherd as they approach the ship, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008, in Antarctic waters. The Japanese whaling ship detained two activists from the group accused of throwing acid while illegally boarding the vessel in Antarctica on Tuesday. (AP Photo/The Institute of Cetacean Research, HO)
In this photo released by The Institute of Cetacean Research, activists from the environmental group Sea Shepherd prepare to transfer to an Australia-charted vessel Thursday, Jan. 17 , 2008 in Antarctic waters. A tense standoff in frigid Antarctic waters ended when two activists who had jumped on board a Japanese whaling boat were returned to their ship by Australian officials. (AP Photo/The Institute of Cetacean Research, HO) ** MANDATORY CREDIT **
In this photo released by The Institute of Cetacean Research, an activist from the environmental group Sea Shepherd prepares to hurl a butyric acid-containing bottle against the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru No. 2 Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008, in Antarctic waters. (AP Photo/The Institute of Cetacean Research, HO) ** MANDATORY CREDIT **
In this photo released by The Institute of Cetacean Research, crew members of the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru No. 2, spray water at activists from the environmental group Sea Shepherd as they approach the ship, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008, in Antarctic waters. The Japanese whaling ship detained two activists from the group accused of throwing acid while illegally boarding the vessel in Antarctica on Tuesday. (AP Photo/The Institute of Cetacean Research, HO)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 21: South Korean activists hold replica whale tails in front of a Minke whale model protesting against Japan's whaling fleet going to Antarctica to kill minke whales during a protest rally in front of the Japanese Embassy on April 21, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea. Members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) are scheduled to hold their annual meeting in Ulsan, South Korea from May 27 to June 24. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 21: A South Korean activist wears a whale picture mask protesting against Japan's whaling fleet going to Antarctica to kill minke whales during a protest rally in front of the Japanese Embassy on April 21, 2005 in Seoul, South Korea. Members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) are scheduled to hold their annual meeting in Ulsan, South Korea from May 27 to June 24. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
A slaughtered whale on board a Japanese whaling vessel carry out scientific research in the Antarctic, 1993. The baleen fringe is visible inside the animal's wide open mouth. (Photo by Mark Votier/Hulton Archive/Getty
The crew of a Japanese whaling vessel carry out scientific research in the Antarctic, 1993. The baleen fringe is visible inside the mouth of the slaughtered whale. (Photo by Mark Votier/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi speaks during the 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Hundreds of Japanese pro-whaling officials, lawmakers and lobby groups vowed to protect whale hunts despite the world court ruling that ordered the country’s Antarctic research culls must be stopped. Hayashi told the meeting that Japan must protect its whale hunts and diet as cultural tradition. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Some 30 right-wing protesters gather as police officers stand guard outside Tokyo District Court before the court hands down ruling on New Zealand activist Peter Bethune, in Tokyo Wednesday, July 7, 2010. The court on Wednesday convicted Bethune of assault and obstructing the Japanese whaling mission in the Antarctic Ocean, sentencing him to a suspended prison term. The court sentenced Bethune to two years in prison, with the sentence suspended for five years, meaning he won't be jailed. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Supporters of Japan's whaling gather around the table for buffet during the 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Hundreds of Japanese pro-whaling officials, lawmakers and lobby groups vowed to protect whale hunts despite the world court ruling that ordered the country’s Antarctic research culls must be stopped. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), speaks about the country's whaling program during a press conference in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. The International Court of Justice ruling against Japanese whaling last March may have given the government a convenient political out. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Smudges of red paint hurled by anti-whaling activists are seen on the bow of Japan's whaling ship Nisshin Maru moored at a port in Tokyo, Friday, March 25, 2011 shortly before leaving for the water off Miyagi Prefecture, carrying relief goods for tsunami-stricken northeastern Japan. The Nisshin Maru returned to Japan on March 21 after Japanese government suspended its annual whale hunt due to repeated harassment of its whalers by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inuye)
Performers on a boat close to the nine-meter-long mockup of right whale as they reenact the traditional whaling during a summer festival, in southwestern Japanese whaling town of Taiji, Wakayama prefecture, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Fillipino Greenpeace protesters wear mask of two Japanese anti-whaling activist arrested in Japan in 2008 as they display cut-out models of whale tail fins during a protest Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, in front of the Japanese Embassy in suburban Pasay City south of Manila, Philippines. The protesters called on the Japanese government for a fair trial for the two activists and a fresh inquiry into Japan's whaling industry. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)
FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2009 file photo released by Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research workers measure a captured mink whale on the deck of Japanese whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru, as Sea Shepherd's ship, the M/Y Steve Irwin, partly seen at left top, follows from behind in the Ross Sea, off Antarctica. The greatest threat to Japan’s whaling industry may not be the environmentalists harassing its ships or the countries demanding its abolishment, but Japanese consumers. The amount of whale meat stockpiled for lack of buyers has nearly doubled over 10 years, even as anti-whaling protests helped drive catches to record lows. More than 2,300 mink whales worth of meat is sitting in freezers while whalers still plan to catch another 1,300 whales per year. Uncertainty looms ahead of an International Court of Justice ruling expected Monday, March 27, 2014 over a 2010 suit filed by Australia, which argues that Japan’s whaling - ostensibly for research - is a cover for commercial hunts. (AP Photo/The Institute of Cetacean Research, File)
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By MARI YAMAGUCHI

TOKYO (AP) - Japan is seeking international support for its plans to hunt minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year by scaling down the whaling research program the U.N. top court rejected earlier this year, fisheries officials said Wednesday.

Whaling for research purposes is exempt from the 1986 international ban on commercial whaling, and Japan has conducted hunts in the Atlantic and Pacific on that basis. But in March, the International Court of Justice ruled the Antarctic program wasn't scientific as Japan had claimed and must stop.

Japan's Fisheries Agency is working on a revised program to be submitted to the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee around November. The agency will announce its intention and basic plan at the Sept. 15-18 IWC meeting in Slovenia and will continue to finalize catch targets and other details over the next few weeks.

The new program will address the problems cited by the court, an agency official said on condition of anonymity, citing department rules. The court said Japan's Antarctic program produced little actual research and failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales for the study.

Approval from the IWC's scientific committee isn't mandatory, but any attempt by Japan to resume whaling would be likely to face intense scrutiny over whether it complies with the court ruling.

Japan also plans to no longer hunt fin and humpback whales, after hardly catching any of those two species in the past nine years.

After steadily fulfilling its Antarctic catch target of 440 for 17 years, Japan more than doubled it to 935 minke whales in 2005. It came close to the target only the following year and has fallen since, mainly because the demand for whale meat has declined significantly at home.

The government also has had to keep spending tax money to sustain whaling operators. Violent protests by anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd also contributed to the declining catch.

During the 2013-14 season, Japan caught 251 minke whales in the Antarctic, or just a quarter of its target, and 224 others in the northern Pacific program, which isn't as controversial. Japan also hunts more than 160 whales along its coast, outside of the IWC oversight.

Japan will go to the Antarctic later this year, but only for nonlethal research, the official said.

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