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Japan 'mulling IWC withdrawal' to resume commercial whaling

22 December 2018, 01:38 | Ross Houston

Japan to withdraw from IWC to resume commercial whaling: reports

Japan to withdraw from Intl. Whaling Commission

Japanese media are reporting Tokyo has made a decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission ((IWC)) to resume commercial whaling - just three months after anti-whaling nations, including Australia, voted down a Japanese push to end the ban. But this has been criticized internationally as a cover for a commercial hunt.

Two countries have withdrawn from the global commission.

Japan faced criticism earlier this year after reporting that its whaling fleet had killed 122 pregnant whales during its annual research hunt in the Southern Ocean last winter.

While Japan has hunted whales under the guise of science since the 1980s, this would be the first time in 30 years that it hunted them exclusively for commercial purposes, Kyodo News reported.

The government conveyed its decision on Thursday to lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The Japanese government is expected to cite the recovery of certain whale species as justification for the move, although it's thought to be considering whaling only in its own waters, according to the BBC. But critics say they doubt if a country with an aging and shrinking population can develop a sustainable whaling industry if it returns to commercial hunts.

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The IWC was set up for the objective of the conservation and sustainable use of whales.

The announcement comes after Japan's latest attempt to pursue commercial whaling was rejected at an IWC meeting in Brazil in September.

Yet whaling and anti-whaling countries have clashed over the matter. "Japan's official position, that we want to resume commercial whaling as soon as possible, has not changed", the official told The Guardian. Despite this, the Japanese state minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Masaaki Taniai, did express the need to "consider every available option" after a vote that didn't go Japan's way at the September meeting of the IWC.

"We would like to wholeheartedly celebrate an end to Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean, but if Japan leaves the International Whaling Commission and continues killing whales in the north Pacific it will be operating completely outside the bounds of international law", said Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns at Humane Society International in Australia.

Japan has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is a cherished part of its food culture. If it does leave, Japan would join Iceland and Norway in openly defying the moratorium.



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