Whale Wars: Is This The End?

by Julian Ku

On Monday, the International Court of Justice will announce its long-awaited judgment in Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan). The judgment (scheduled for 10 a.m. Hague time) comes almost four years after Australia first filed its application way back in May 2010 (here is one of many prior posts where I complained about the length of time this judgment has taken).

This case will be the first time (I believe) that Japan has participated in an ICJ proceeding as a respondent and facing a binding judgment.  Both Japan and Australia had no shortage of legal talent on their teams in this case.  Australia is claiming that Japan is violating its obligations under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling by using the cover of “scientific research” to actually conduct commercial whaling.  Japan disagrees, and my impression is that this will end up being more of a factual than legal determination by the ICJ here, but I haven’t been following the legal arguments very closely.

In any event, it will also be interesting to see how and if Japan complies with the ICJ’s ruling if it loses.  I find it hard to imagine that the Japanese government will immediately comply, but it is hard to imagine Japan simply ignoring the judgment either.  Since there is evidence the commercial viability of whaling in Japan is collapsing anyway, perhaps this is the excuse the Japanese government needs to end its whaling programs? In any event, if Japan wants to leave open international adjudication as a mechanism for resolving disputes with Korea or China, it needs to be careful in how it reacts to any adverse ruling here.

http://opiniojuris.org/2014/03/29/whale-wars-end/

4 Responses

  1. Response…Well it seems that Japan will comply. MOFA immediately issued a statement saying that it accepts the ruling of the Court. Japan honourably participated in the hearings, but tried to make the same arguments it makes every year within the IWC, a forum where there is no real sanction for perceived abuses of the ICRW. In the spotlight of the ICJ, these arguments were found wanting and Japan was significantly criticised for abusing Article VIII of the ICRW. It will be interesting if MOFA and not the Ministry of Fisheries now take a lead on navigating Japan out of the mine field that its Fisheries civil servants have led themselves into over the last few years

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. […] As Julian Ku notes at Opinion Juris, it will be interesting to see whether Japan complies with this decision. ICJ judgments are not necessarily binding, and the ICJ lacks any means of enforcing its decisions. In this case, however, Japan chose to participate in the case and said it will accept the judgment. Even if Japan complies, however, this may not mean an end to whaling. Insofar as the judgment was heavily dependent upon the details of how Japan conducts whaling now, it is possible that more carefully controlled could pass muster — and I would not be surprised to see Japan try. […]

  2. […] As Julian Ku records during Opinion Juris, it will be engaging to see either Japan complies with this decision. ICJ judgments are not indispensably binding, and a ICJ lacks any means of enforcing a decisions. In this case, however, Japan chose to attend in a box and pronounced it will accept a judgment. Even if Japan complies, however, this might not meant an finish to whaling. Insofar as a visualisation was heavily contingent on a sum of how Japan conducts whaling now, it is probable that some-more delicately tranquil could pass pattern — and we would not be astounded to see Japan try. […]

  3. […] As Julian Ku notes at Opinion Juris, it will be interesting to see whether Japan complies with this decision. ICJ judgments are not necessarily binding, and the ICJ lacks any means of enforcing its decisions. In this case, however, Japan chose to participate in the case and said it will accept the judgment. Even if Japan complies, however, this may not mean an end to whaling. Insofar as the judgment was heavily dependent upon the details of how Japan conducts whaling now, it is possible that more carefully controlled could pass muster — and I would not be surprised to see Japan try. […]