The International Court of Justice, or ICJ, ordered Japan on Monday to "revoke" the permits it issued for whale hunts in Antarctica because Tokyo failed to meet the requirements for "purposes of scientific research" laid out in international law.

The ICJ ruling, which was approved on a 12-4 vote, found that "Japan has not acted in conformity with its obligations under paragraph 7 (b) of the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in relation to the killing, taking and treating of fin whales in the 'Southern Ocean Sanctuary' in pursuance of JARPA II."

Japan contends that its whaling program, which was unilaterally launched in the 1980s after the International Whaling Commission imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling, is carried out strictly for scientific research.

The court, also by a 12-4 vote ruled "that Japan shall revoke any extant authorization, permit or license granted in relation to JARPA II, and refrain from granting any further permits in pursuance of that program," ICJ president Peter Tomka said, reading from the decision.

Australia filed suit against Japan in the ICJ in May 2010, alleging that Japanese whalers were hunting the endangered marine mammals for commercial purposes, but the court did not rule on the charge, saying only that the hunts were not for "scientific" purposes. EFE