Published: Sat, December 22, 2018
Research | By Wilma Wheeler

Japan considers leaving IWC to resume commercial whale hunts

Japan considers leaving IWC to resume commercial whale hunts

Japan's withdrawal, planned for next year, could spark criticism from European and other countries opposed to the practice of whaling.

Government officials will inform executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner Komeito of the decision, they said.

Japanese whaling officials said the whaling organisation is supposed to pursue sustainability but has become an anti-whaling body.

Slooten described the IWC, in its current form, as a "halfway house" that manages whaling and whale conservation, but is dominated by a "very narrow-minded approach to how to interact with whales".

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.

For many years Japan has hunted whales for what it calls "scientific research" and to sell the meat, a programme widely criticised by conservationists.

To leave the IWC in 2019, Japan needs to notify the commission by Jan 1.

Two countries have withdrawn from the worldwide commission.


Japan will inform the IWC of its decision by the end of the year, according to Kyodo news agency.

1987 - Japan starts hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean for what it calls "scientific research" purposes.

"If commercial whaling based on science is completely denied, and if there's no possibility for the different positions and views to coexist with mutual understanding and respect, then Japan will be pressed to undertake a fundamental reassessment of its position", the minister said.

While fewer people eat whale today than in the past, Hideki Moronuki, Japan's Alternate Commissioner to the IWC, said there could be food shortages if commercial whaling continues to be outlawed. Not satisfied with harpooning whales, it now looks like Japan is threatening to harpoon the future of the IWC.

His government had a short time previously at the IWC meeting in the Brazilian city of Florianópolis, a request for the resumption of commercial whaling. Japan would mainly hunt in its own waters. A "sustainable" whaling is therefore, after 32 years of fishing moratorium.

If withdrawing, Japan has to notify IWC by January 1, according to Kyodo News.

Japan cut back on its catch after a 2014 global court ruling.

Japan has long towed the line with the IWC, which was established in 1948.

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