Published: Fri, December 28, 2018
Research | By Wilma Wheeler

Japan to Resume Commercial Whaling After More Than 30 Years

Japan to Resume Commercial Whaling After More Than 30 Years

The Australian government, which has long fought the idea of Japan's whaling for scientific purposes, expressed disappointment at the withdrawal, as did New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and environmental organization Greenpeace, which labeled the withdrawal "sneaky".

TOKYO-Japan announced on December 26 that it is leaving the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume hunting the animals for commercial use but said it will no longer go to the Antarctic for its much-criticized annual killings of hundreds of whales.

He believes that if Japan decides to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), as it has proposed to do, "it will allow the IWC to pass the motion to establish the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary thus effectively ending whaling in the Southern Hemisphere".

"Commercial whaling to be resumed from July next year will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones".

The country has operated its scientific whaling program since 1985, carrying out hunts in Antarctic waters that saw 333 minke whales killed over the 2017-2018 season, according to IWC.

The decision does not technically impact the 2014 International Court of Justice decision banning Japan from whaling in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean, because to do so requires a nation to have membership of the IWC.

"This means that Japan is now openly declaring their illegal whaling activities", he said.

Ahead of the announcement, activist groups warned Japan against the withdrawal.

"The declaration today is out of step with the global community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures", he said in a statement. In total, nearly 2,000 whales have been killed in the Antarctic since 2009 under a special permit granted by the IWC for research purposes.


Mr Gove, the environment secretary, said that he was "extremely disappointed".

Japan's request for a resumption of commercial whaling was most recently denied at the IWC meeting in September. The government maintains that whale hunting is an important part of Japanese culture, and supporters of the practice have accused western detractors of "cultural imperialism".

"At the IWC general meeting in September this year, it became evident once again that those supporting the sustainable use of whale stocks and those supporting protection can not co-exist, leading us to this conclusion". "However, it would be a bittersweet victory if it comes with unchecked commercial whaling by Japan in their own waters, and their leaving could damage the future of the IWC itself".

Yoshie Nakatani, an official at the foreign ministry's fisheries division, said Japan would still attend IWC meetings.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries, and their meat was a key source of protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was desperately poor.

If Japan succeeded in persuading "like-minded" nations to join it, this could lead to an increase in whaling, he said. "What's most important is to have a diverse and stable food supply", he said. "Their decision to withdraw is regrettable and Australia urges Japan to return to the Convention and Commission as a matter of priority".

Japan also explained that even after the withdrawal, .it will continue to contribute to preserving maritime resources by conducting whaling within the catch limit of the IWC.

In a recent report, the EIA and the Animal Welfare Institute said Japan, Norway and Iceland have killed 38,539 whales since the moratorium took effect, with more than 22,000 killed by Japanese boats.

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