Japan has confirmed that it intends to return to the Antarctic to hunt whales. It follows a landmark ruling in the International Court of Justice.
Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research has today filed court papers in the United States stating it intends to return to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean in the 2015-2016 season.
Last month the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan's whaling programme was not conducted for scientific research purposes as defined under International Whaling Commission regulations.
It ordered Japan to stop all whaling with immediate effect. The case had been taken up by Australia and supported by New Zealand.
But the ICR has filed court briefs with the US District Court in Seattle stating it intends to return to the Southern Ocean with a newly-designed research programme.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which has been fighting to protect whales in the region, says Japan's move is not surprising, and called it a blatant show of defiance to the ICC's ruling.
The organisation says it will get its boats ready and return to the Southern Ocean to protest the slaughter of whales, if and when Japan returns.
A director of Sea Shepherd New Zealand Michael Lawry says he doubt's Japan new whaling research programme will fit with the International Whaling Commission regulations, because any such programme must use humane methods and not kill whales for commercial reasons.
After the ICJ ruling in March, Japan said it would cease its whaling programme. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan would abide by the court ruling.
A spokesperson for the Institute of Cetacean Research confirmed on Saturday confirmed that the papers had been filed, but would not comment any further.
Japan has used a legal loophole in the 1986 ban on commercial whaling that allowed it to continue slaughtering the mammals, ostensibly so it could gather scientific data. However, it has never made a secret of the fact that the whale meat from these hunts end on dining tables.