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Last updated at 14:31 BST, Monday, 07 April 2014

Beginning of the end for Japanese whaling?


7 April 2014

Three Japanese ships have returned home at the end of the annual hunt for whales in the Southern Ocean. Japan has said they will not set sail again next year, after the International Court of Justice said the hunt was illegal.


Michael Bristow

Michael Bristow

Japanese ships travel as far as the Antarctic to hunt for whales


Click to hear the report


It wasn't much of a homecoming: family and friends on the dockside. The crews waved back and then unloaded their cargo of whale meat. It could be the last one for some time from the waters off the Antarctic.

Japan has cancelled next year's hunt after the International Court of Justice said it was illegal. Australia and New Zealand convinced the judges that Japan was not catching whales for scientific research, as it had claimed - to get round a worldwide ban on whaling.

Those welcoming home the flotilla were glum. One official bowed in apology. "People don't understand Japanese ways," said this man.

The captain from one of the returning ships said he hoped he'd someday return to the Antarctic. But next year will be the first time in 25 years that Japan has not hunted whales in the Southern Ocean.


Click here to hear the vocabulary



a time when someone or a group of people return home


items or goods carried on a ship, plane or other large vehicle


made someone certain about something


official rule saying something is not allowed


large group of boats or small ships


disappointed, unhappy; looking sad


bent their body forward (here to show regret)

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