Australia has taken its legal battle to stop Japanese whaling under the banner of "scientific research" before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Public hearings started in The Hague on June 26.
Australia argues that Japan’s scientific research program is commercial whaling in disguise and has no relevance to marine conservation.
Japan argues its whaling is sustainable and that its research program yields essential information about the whale population in the Antarctic.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC) banned commercial whaling in 1986.
"In short, Japan seeks to cloak its ongoing commercial whaling in the lab coat of science," Bill Campbell, an Australian government lawyer, told the court. "It is clear from the written evidence before the court that few, and at least of all Japan, believe that the true purpose is science, involving as it does, the killing of hundreds of whales a year. Simply, it is not science."
Australia initiated the legal action at the UN court in 2010, saying that more than 10,000 whales have been killed since 1988 as a result of Japan's research programs.
Meat from the whales is sold commercially, albeit with limited success, so Japan's stockpiles of unsold whale meat have grown in the past 15 years.
Norway and Iceland also carry out limited whaling, of minke and fin whales, but not under the guise of research.
The hearing is expected to continue until July 16 and a judgment is not expected for several months.
The ICJ’s decision is considered legally binding.
Based on reporting Reuters, AFP, and BBC