Agriculture, Fisheries and Forest

Implementation of New Scientific Whale Research Program in the western North Pacific (NEWREP-NP)

June 11, 2017

  1. Since 2000, Japan had been implementing the Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the western North Pacific Phase II (JARPN II). Taking account of the Judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of March 2014 (PDF) Open a New Window which stated that the use of lethal methods needs to be reasonable in relation to the scientific objectives of the research programme in order for it to be considered that it is for purposes of scientific research (see Note 1), Japan prioritized research objectives and reduced its scale since 2014. Upon termination of JARPN II in 2016, Japan developed a new research plan called ‘’New Scientific Whale Research Program in the western North Pacific (NEWREP-NP).’’.
  2. In accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW (see Note 2), Japan submitted the proposed research plan of NEWREP-NP to the Scientific Committee(SC) of the International Whaling Committee(IWC) in November 2016. In January and February 2017, the Expert Panel to review the proposed plan of NEWREP-NP was held. As a result of the discussion, the Expert Panel recommended for additional works and revisions to be reflected in NEWREP-NP.
  3. In response to the Expert Panel’s recommendations, Japanese scientists undertook additional works that were deemed scientifically valid and the Government of Japan revised the proposed plan accordingly, which was then submitted to the SC in May, 2017. Japan duly explained the scientific grounds of NEWREP-NP at the SC and the SC considered the revised plan. Having determined that the NEWREP-NP received fair evaluation by the SC, Japan finalized NEWREP-NP and commenced its implementation in June 2017.

(Note 1)

  • “The Preamble of the ICRW indicates that the Convention pursues the purpose of ensuring the conservation of all species of whales while allowing for their sustainable exploitation. […] Amendments to the Schedule and recommendations by the IWC may put an emphasis on one or the other objective pursued by the Convention, but cannot alter its object and purpose.” [Para. 56 of the Judgment]
  • “In order to ascertain whether a programme’s use of lethal methods is for purposes of scientific research, the Court will consider whether the elements of a programme’s design and implementation are reasonable in relation to its stated scientific objectives…” [Para. 88 of the Judgment]
  • “The Court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not ’’for purposes of scientific research’’ pursuant to Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention.” [Para, 227 of the Judgment]
  • “It is to be expected that Japan will take account of the reasoning and conclusions contained in this Judgment as it evaluates the possibility of granting any future permits under Article VIII, paragraph 1, of the Convention.” [Para. 246 of the Judgment]

(Note 2)

Paragraph 30 of the Schedule to the ICRW provides that a Contracting Government shall provide the Secretary to the International Whaling Commission with proposed scientific permits before they are issued and in sufficient time to allow the Scientific Committee to review and comment on them.