Australia accused Japan of carrying out commercial whaling under the pretext of scientific research in violation of an international ban during the first day of court hearings between the two countries. Australia, which seeks to put an end to the yearly slaughter of nearly 1,000 whales in the Southern Ocean, has asked the International Court of Justice to withdraw the Japanese fleet's whale hunt permits. Japan said that it had a right to take up to 935 minke whales in the Antarctic, but Australian Government counsel Bill Campbell said Japan's interpretation of the rules could have disastrous consequences for the whale population. "I ask the court to consider the consequences if the other 88 member states of the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling had the capacity and conducted whaling on the same basis as Japan," he said. "If each were to act the same way, a total of 83,215 minke whales a year would be killed." Japan claims it takes the whales for scientific purposes to see whether whale stocks are recovering from past overfishing, but opponents of the country's whaling practices say research could be conducted on whales without killing them. For the full story, see and Earlier: