Shadow attorney-general, Labor's Mark Dreyfus, who helped argue Australia's case, said other countries may now follow Australia's lead.
"This was a pioneering piece of litigation - the first time that there had been litigation in the International Court of Justice about an environmental treaty," he said.
"It's going to pave the way for more environmental litigation I could expect between nations."
Congratulations to Dreyfus, Garrett, Rudd and Gillard who pursued Japan into the ICJ when the then opposition said it was a stunt and a waste of time. The only stunt was Hunt's 'promise' to send Australian ships into the Southern Ocean to monitor the Japanese whale hunt. That of course didn't happen.
Greens founder and Sea Shepherd director Bob Brown declared on Twitter that the ICJ's ruling was a "whale of a win".
He said he does not expect Japan will apply for new permits to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean.
"Japan, like all other great nations, has it's reputation to think of. And I don't think it's going to put a huge money loser like this in front of its global reputation. The court ruling is a blessing in disguise for Japan," he said.
Sea Shepherd global executive officer and former captain of the Steve Irwin protest ship, Alex Cornelissen, said Australia's advocacy was an important factor in the outcome.
More than 10,000 whales have been killed since 1988 as a result of Japan's programs.