Australia-Japan whaling case arguments due in 2012

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Final written arguments in Australia’s complaint against Japan over whaling in the Southern Ocean will be due in March 2012, the world court said on Tuesday, ensuring that the case will take years to resolve.

Australia filed its case at the Hague-based International Court of Justice last month, arguing that Japan was violating the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) by killing whales for research purposes.

Cases at the court typically take years to resolve, and this is no exception. Australia must file initial pleadings by May 2011 and Japan must counter by March 2012.

Australia is asking the court to order Japan to cease its whale research programme and ban it from whaling activities.

A decision would come in 2013 or later.

Whaling has been a thorny issue between the two trading partners, though both in the past have vowed not to let it affect their relations, which include growing military and security cooperation.

Commercial whaling was banned under a 1986 moratorium, but Japan still culls whales for what it says is research.

The president of the International Court of Justice, which hears disputes betweens nations, is Hisashi Owada, a former Japanese diplomat and father of the crown princess who is married to the heir of Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne.

Reporting by Reed Stevenson; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter