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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



ICJ case updates

First post in a long long time.

A couple of marathons and better stuff to do than thinking about anti-whaling nutters has largely kept me disinterested in the whaling circus for the last couple of years, and by the looks of it I haven't missed much.

Sea Shepherd have apparently continued their dangerous activities in the Southern Ocean (with success from their point-of-view), their leader has become an international fugitive, they have been labelled as "pirates" by the US justice system, and whale meat is still on the shelves here in Tokyo at my local supermarkets. All in all, not a great deal of significant change to my mind, just short term events.

Although I should note that recently I've seen more Icelandic whale meat on sale than before. Presumably the commercially produced Icelandic fin whale product has a good price advantage on the Japanese research whaling minke whale stuff, although with the Japanese yen weakenening over the past 5 or 6 months this may have some impact on prices for Iceland's product going forward. The strength of the yen must have been a nice tail wind for Iceland's whalers until now.

Personally I am looking at the ICJ case between Australia and Japan as having far more long term significance for the whaling disputes than anything to do with Sea Shepherd's activities.

A good number of documents have become available at the ICJ page as the proceedings run their course.

It sounds like there will be a lot of action there in July. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately, I won't be around much of a computer for a good part of July to be able to follow, but perhaps some more details about the case and it's path will become available at the time.

A couple of documents (here and here) about the recent intervention by New Zealand are full of legalese but there are some interesting bits for the lay person:

Judge Owada adds that the Order does not sufficiently examine, in the concrete context of the situation of this case, the serious issues raised by Japan regarding the intervention by New Zealand. Judge Owada notes that, although Japan does not raise a formal objection to the intervention, it seems evident that it is deeply concerned that New Zealand’s intervention could have consequences that would affect the equality of the Parties to the dispute and thus the fair administration of justice.

Judge Owada further writes that it is regrettable that a State Party to a case before the Court and a State seeking to intervene in that case pursuant to Article 63 of the Statute should engage in what could be perceived as active collaboration in litigation strategy to use the Court’s Statute and the Rules of Court for the purpose of promoting their common interest, as is candidly admitted in their Joint Media Release of 15 December 2010.
Sounds very much like the dirty tricks of the IWC have been brought to the ICJ, although that is to be expected.

On the other hand, there is also a clear indication that at least one other judge on the panel takes an anti-whaling view:
15. He then recalls that the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), provides for the proper conservation of the whale stocks and the orderly development of the whaling industry; it is, in his view, clear that the former stands higher, as without the proper conservation of whale stocks there can be no orderly development of the whaling industry. The basic foundation of the ICRW is thus the conservation of all whale species at issue.
Obviously I can't agree with this judge's higher emphasis on conservation. Naturally there can be no sustainable whaling without conservation, however conservation without regard for the goal of development of the whaling industry is a denial of the true purpose of the convention.

At the end of the day, if the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling can be abused to the point that it's original purpose - whaling - is no longer possible, then there is no longer any benefit for nations with an interest in whaling remaining party to it. This is a key point to which I expect most ICJ judges will pay respect to, given the precedents that could be set for international agreements if they can simply be turned back on, not least of all for the functioning of the IWC.



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