Japan to Leave International Whaling Commission to Resume Whaling

Japan to Leave International Whaling Commission to Resume Whaling

Australia has expressed "extreme" disappointment at Japan's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial hunts. It will not commercially hunt whales in the Southern Hemisphere, including the Antarctic Ocean.

By withdrawing from the commission, Japan will not be able to hunt in major waterways, as United Nations law says all countries must work through "the appropriate global organizations" for conservation.

It says commercial whaling will be limited to its territorial and economic waters and it would no longer hunt in the Antarctic.

"The whaling will be conducted in accordance with global law and within the catch limits calculated in accordance with the method adopted by the IWC to avoid negative impact on cetacean resources", Suga said.

Commercial whaling has been banned by IWC since 1986, but Japan has long lobbied for the restrictions to be eased.

He added that Japan is disappointed that the IWC - which he said is dominated by conservationists - focuses on the protection of whale stocks even though the commission has a treaty mandate for both whale conservation and the development of the whaling industry.

Environmental group Greenpeace condemned the decision and disputed Japan's view that whale stocks have recovered, noting also that ocean life is being threatened by pollution as well as overfishing.

Suga said Japan will notify the IWC of its decision by December 31 and remains committed to worldwide co-operation on proper management of marine living resources even after its IWC withdrawal.

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said it was now trying to work out the implications of the decision. Allegations have been made that provision of Japanese aid has been tied to support provided at the IWC. "There is no change to our country's respect for the rule of law and multilateralism".

Japan has long said eating whale meat is part of its culture, and that most whale species aren't endangered.

"Whaling is an outdated and unnecessary practice".

Australia called Japan's decision to withdraw from the IWC "regrettable" and urged Japan to return to the convention as a "matter of priority", in a statement released Wednesday.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries, but has reduced its catch following global protests and declining demand for whale meat at home.

Japan suspended its hunt for one season to re-tool its whaling program with measures such as cutting the number of whales and species targeted, but resumed hunting in the 2015-2016 season. It began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after an global whaling moratorium began.

"Whale meat is tasty, but I wonder if we need to increase the volume of catches even at the cost of being isolated internationally", a 41-year-old customer at a whale meat restaurant in Tokyo told the Kyodo news agency.

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