Japan to resume commercial whaling after IWC withdrawal

By AFP |December 26,2018 - 09:55 PM

JAPAN said Wednesday it is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission and will resume commercial whaling next year, sparking criticism from activists and anti-whaling countries including Australia.

The announcement comes after Japan failed earlier this year to convince the IWC to allow it to resume commercial whaling.

Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the commercial hunts would be limited to Japan’s territorial waters.

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

Tokyo has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the IWC, and has been regularly criticized for catching hundreds of whales a year for “scientific research” despite being a signatory to a moratorium on hunting the animals.

Suga said Japan would officially inform the IWC of its decision by the end of the year, which will mean the withdrawal comes into effect by June 30.

Leaving the IWC means Japanese whalers will be able to resume hunting in Japanese coastal waters of minke and other whales currently protected by the IWC.

But Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that it has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty.

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

Australia’s government said it was “extremely disappointed” and urged Japan to reconsider the withdrawal.

“Australia remains resolutely opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called ‘scientific’ whaling,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Environment Minister Melissa Price said in a statement.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters also urged Japan to stay in the IWC.

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