The Japanese government has decided to continue whaling in the North Pacific though it will reduce the number of catches as a result of an order issued by the International Court of Justice, or ICJ, for that country to stop hunting whales in Antarctica.

Japan's Agriculture and Fishing Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi announced the measure after a Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The decision of the ICJ and the fierce criticism by the international community increased the pressure on Japan to put an end to whaling in the North Pacific as well, which according to Tokyo is also done for scientific purposes.

The Japanese premier finally decided to apply new methods of research that do not necessarily require whaling, as well as reducing the maximum number of annual catches from the current 380 to 210, Hayashi said in a statement reported by Kyodo news agency.

Japan's North Pacific fishing fleet will sail from the northeastern Miyagi coast to start the new season on Saturday, April 26, four days later than originally planned - a delay that some national media say was decided to keep the start of whaling season, generally condemned by Western nations, from coinciding with the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Obama will arrive in Japan on April 23 and depart on April 25, one day before the whalers are now scheduled to set sail. EFE