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Japan Says Hopes to Resume Whaling Later This Year, Hurdles Remain

Japan hopes to resume whale hunting in the Antarctic later this year, a top official said on Friday, despite a finding by the International Whaling Commission that Tokyo had yet to prove the kill was scientifically justified.

In April, an IWC panel of experts said it opposed Japan's proposal for its Antarctic whaling program in the Southern Ocean because it did not demonstrate a need for "lethal sampling," prompting Japan to submit additional information.

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The IWC's Scientific Committee said in a report released on Friday that Japan's additional material had failed to clear all doubts about whether "lethally obtained data" would contribute to management and conservation of whales, calling on Japan to provide even more analysis.

Last year, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan's decades-old whale hunt in the Southern Ocean should stop, prompting Tokyo to cancel the bulk of its whaling for the 2014-2015 season.

Officials said then that whaling would resume in the 2015-2016 season, under a revised plan.

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"There's no change in our stance on resuming whaling," said Joji Morishita, Japan's commissioner to the IWC, at a news conference.

Japan has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is part of its food culture. Its most recent whaling plan proposed to take 333 minke whales in the Antarctic.