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AYUKAWA, Japan - A Japanese whaling fleet left port Saturday under tight security, marking the first hunt since the UN's top court last month ordered Tokyo to stop killing whales in the Antarctic. Credit: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images Four ships departed from the northeastern fishing town of Ayukawa to cheers from local people, just weeks after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) slammed Japan's expedition in the Southern Ocean as a commercial activity masquerading as research. The coastal hunt on Saturday was not part of Japan's annual Antarctic campaign and the ICJ ruling did not affect it. But it holds symbolic importance as critics call for Japan to end the slaughter outright,...

BEIJING - China's legislature voted on Thursday to approve a legal measure that will jail people caught eating rare wild animals, state media reported. Credit: Getty Creative The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) approved a new interpretation of China's Criminal Law at a bimonthly session, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The NPC, China's top legislature, met in full session in March. However the NPC Standing Committee has the authority to pass legislation and make legal changes on its own. The report said that China's government deems 420 species of wild animals as rare or endangered. The animals include giant pandas, golden monkeys, Asian black bears...

THE HAGUE - The United Nations' top court on Monday ordered Japan to end its annual Antarctic whale hunt, saying in a landmark ruling that the programme was a commercial activity disguised as science. The Hague. Credit: Associated Press Tokyo said it would honour the ruling shortly after it was handed down at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), but did not rule out the possibility of future whaling programmes. "Japan shall revoke any existent authorisation, permit or licence granted in relation to JARPA II (research programme) and refrain from granting any further permits," ICJ presiding judge Peter Tomka ordered. Tokyo was accused of exploiting a legal loophole in the...

THE HAGUE - The UN's top court will rule Monday whether Japan has the right to hunt whales in the Antarctic, in an emotive case activists say is make-or-break for the giant mammal's future. Credit: Getty Editorial Australia in 2010 hauled Japan to the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Tokyo of exploiting a loophole by hunting whales as scientific research, despite a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Australia has asked the world court to order Japan to stop its JARPA II research programme and "revoke any authorisations, permits or licences" to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean. During hearings last year, Australia accused Japan of doing nothing more than "cloaking...