Japan starts controversial whaling off northern island

Whalers from Japan on Monday have started hunting up to 51 minke whales in waters off the country's northern island of Hokkaido, the government said despite international criticism.

From Monday to late October a fleet of four whaling ships plans to hunt in a 50-kilometre radius from Kushiro port, the eastern part of Hokkaido, the Fisheries Agency said.

The hunt will be conducted as part of what Japan calls a “scientific research whaling programme” in the north-western Pacific Ocean.

In March 2014, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japan's research whaling programme in the Antarctic contravened a 1986 moratorium on whale hunting.

The ruling prompted Tokyo to suspend whaling in the Antarctic in the 2014 season. But it resumed the operation in December 2015 and caught 333 minke whales in the Southern Ocean during a two-month trip.

Japan officially stopped commercial whaling in 1987 in response to the previous year’s moratorium. International critics however say the country has since used a loophole to keep whaling under the pretext of scientific research.

Last update: Mon, 05/09/2016 - 10:01

More from World

HRW decries Russia and Saudi Arabia's candidacy for UN rights body

Russia and Saudi Arabia's re-election to serve on the UN Human Rights Council would undermine the body's credibility...

Expert: UN avoiding responsibility for Haiti cholera is a "disgrace"

The reluctance of the United Nations to accept responsibility for allegedly causing the 2010 cholera outbreak in...

Turkish authorities arrest mayor of Diyarbakir

The mayor of Diyarbakir, a major city in Turkey's predominantly Kurdish south-east, has been detained on suspicion...

Trump: "We're very close or winning"

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump maintains that his campaign is "very close or winning" with just...

Dozens of Iraqi civilians found dead outside of Mosul, the UN says

The bullet-ridden bodies of dozens of civilians have reportedly been found near Mosul by Iraqi security services,...