Japan to Announce Withdrawal from International Whaling Commission on Wednesday

Japan to Announce Withdrawal from International Whaling Commission on Wednesday

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that Tokyo made a decision to pull out from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) starting in 2019 to resume commercial whaling in July after a 30-year pause, local media reported.

In past years, hundreds of whales were killed in what Japanese officials called "research" or "scientific" efforts.

Japan joins Iceland and Norway in openly defying the IWC's ban on commercial whale hunting, and its decision sparked global criticism.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that Japan's commercial whaling will be limited to its territorial and economic waters. "Critics say the practice is a cover for what actually amounts to commercial whaling.It means that whales can be taken for scientific studies and the meat can later be sold for consumption", the BBC says.

Suga said Japan would notify the IWC of its decision by December 31 and remains committed to worldwide cooperation on proper management of marine life even after its IWC withdrawal.

Japan has also continued to hunt smaller species of whales that are not covered by the IWC in its coastal waters.

The announcement was not surprising, as it comes after the IWC declined Japan's request to allow its fishermen to hunt minke and other whales protected by the organization.

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.

Tokyo has long argued that most whale species are not endangered and that eating whale is a part of its culture.

By the way, today's announcement doesn't mean that Japan hasn't been hunting whales all this time.

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Japan has announced it will no longer be hunting whales in the Southern Ocean, instead, it will resume commercial whaling within its own waters.

But the bid failed, with strong opposition from anti-whaling nations - led by Australia, the European Union and the US.

Japan's vice-minister for fisheries Masaaki Taniai said after that vote that Tokyo would be "pressed to undertake a fundamental reassessment of its position as a member of the IWC".

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

Ms Fuchs says Japan carries great influence in other whaling countries, and its withdrawal from the IWC could encourage South Korea and Russian Federation to make the same move.

Japan has halted commercial whaling in line with a moratorium adopted in 1982 by the IWC.

"The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling", Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement.

It makes no secret however of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables.

"There have been no concessions from countries who only place importance on the protection of whales", Suga said.

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