Japan plans to renew business whaling; Australia opposes its choice

Japan plans to renew business whaling; Australia opposes its choice

The IWC adopted a declaration calling for the continuation of a moratorium of commercial whaling, impressing upon the global community its commitment to protecting whales.

Moreover, in resuming commercial whaling in the Pacific Ocean, Tokyo is required by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to work through "appropriate worldwide organizations" for the conservation, management and study of whale species.

"Yet many critics view this use of the exception as a fig leaf, exploited by Japan's Fisheries Agency to cover for the practice of reportedly selling whale meat commercially".

A US group dedicated to the protection of whales and dolphins criticized Japan's decision on Thursday.

The decision, which will be officially announced as early as next week, comes after decades of confrontation between pro- and anti-whaling members of the IWC.

Citing unnamed government sources, local news agency Kyodo said a formal decision to withdraw from the IWC would come by the end of the year.

"The hardline stance is nearly like that of the administration of U.S. President (Donald) Trump", said a 41-year-old customer at a whale meat steak restaurant in Tokyo, referring to Japan's decision to pull out of the IWC.

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But Masayuki Komatsu, a former fisheries official who represented Japan at IWC, questioned if Japan gains anything from withdrawing.

In the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, which is said to be the place where Japan's whaling culture began, Mayor Kazutaka Sangen welcomed the move, saying: "We need to protect coastal whaling". The government "needs to remove our worries by showing what kind of strategy it will adopt after departure", he added.

In that year, the International Court of Justice agreed with arguments by Australia and ruled that Japan's research whaling in the Antarctic violated international law.

The country which has often been in disagreement with IWC whaling restrictions says it will soon return to commercial whaling. Some Japanese commentators have accused other countries of cultural imperialism in demanding that all forms of whaling be banned.

The country now plans to resume commercial whaling in seas around Japan and within its exclusive economic zones, but will exclude species facing extinction from its catch.

Whale meat was widely consumed in Japan amid food shortages in the years following World War II and was a feature of school lunches.

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