Japan will resume commercial whaling, but not in Antarctic

Gwen Vasquez
December 26, 2018

Now, Japan says the whale population has recovered enough to resume commercial hunting, and the IWC has become more like an opponent of whaling than an organization aiming for sustainability.

The Sankei newspaper said the decision was made at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday after the government decided it would be hard to resume commercial whaling while a member of the global body.

Japan has revealed it is leaving the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and will start hunting whales for business use, but said it will no longer go to the Antarctic.

"Japan now becomes a pirate whaling nation killing these ocean leviathans completely outside the bounds of worldwide law", Humane Society global president Kitty Block said.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters welcomed Japan's decision to halt Antarctic whaling but said he was disappointed with the decision to resume any commercial whaling. Japan switched to what is calls research whaling, but the program was criticized as a cover for commercial hunting since the meat is sold on the market at home.

Mr Suga said Japan will notify the IWC of its decision by 31 December and remains committed to global cooperation on proper management of marine living resources even after its IWC withdrawal.

"We will not hunt in the Antarctic waters or in the southern hemisphere", he added.

The IWC banned commercial whaling in 1986, but some countries including Japan, Norway and Iceland have exploited a provision in the 1946 Convention for the Regulation of Whaling that allows whales to be killed for scientific purposes. It began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after an worldwide whaling moratorium began.

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"As a result of modern fleet technology, overfishing in both Japanese coastal waters and high seas areas has led to the depletion of many whale species", Greenpeace International said.

Nevertheless, so-called scientific research hunts were exceptionally allowed under a controversial clause in the Antarctic Treaty.

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.

However, Japan's conservative government argues that there is a need to pass whaling culture on to the next generation.

"It's clear that the government is trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year, away from the spotlight of global media, but the world sees this for what it is", Greenpeace Japan said in a statement.

Abe's own electoral district includes Shimonoseki, a whaling port in western Japan.

The Japanese government, under pressure from the local fishing industry, has decided it could not restart commercial whaling while being a member of the worldwide body responsible for the conservation of whales.

Around 200,000 tons of whale meat was consumed in Japan each year in the 1960s, but it has fallen sharply to around 5,000 tons in recent years, according to government data.

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