Japan to resume commercial whaling, but not in Antarctic

Japan to resume commercial whaling, but not in Antarctic

Japan may have harpooned itself in the foot with its decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and to resume commercial whaling, with fisheries companies here warning that the industry will quickly become economically unviable. The withdrawal from the IWC may be a face-saving step to stop Japan's ambitious Antarctic hunts and scale down the scope of whaling to around the Japanese coasts.

The Guardian reported that On Wednesday, the Japanese government's chief spokesman, Yoshihide Suga announced that the country would be withdrawing from the worldwide regulatory body effective June 30, 2019, and in July will resume commercial whaling within its coastal waters for the first time in over 30 years.

Japan says it kills about 600 whales a year and the industry employs fewer than 300 people.

Suga said the commercial hunts would be limited to Japan's territorial waters and its 200-mile (323-kilometre) exclusive economic zone along its coasts.

"I think that whaling's time has long passed and there isn't really any demand for this product in Japan".

The environmental group Greenpeace condemned Wednesday's announcement and disputed Japan's view that whale stocks have recovered, and noted that ocean life is being threatened by pollution as well as overfishing.

Australia urged Japan to return to the IWC "as a matter of priority", its environment minister, Melissa Price, said in a statement. "We're also anxious because it's unknown how many whales Japan is intending to take".

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Prior to this Japan hunted whales for "scientific research" - but also for the meat, a highly controversial practice.

If Japan succeeded in persuading "like-minded" nations to join it, this could lead to an increase in whaling, he said.

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, capping its Antarctic catch with a quota of 333 whales annually.

Influential lawmakers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party whose constituencies include whaling communities have long lobbied for a resumption of commercial whaling.

Kazutaka Sangen, mayor of Taiji, a central Japanese town known for dolphin hunts, welcomed the decision and vowed to stick with scientific way of stock management so that Japan's position on whaling can gain understanding from the worldwide community.

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