Japan to leave International Whaling Commission, resume commercial hunt

28 December, 2018, 09:42 | Author: Sidney Guerrero
  • Japan announces IWC withdrawal to resume commercial whaling

Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru is anchored in Shimonoseki, western Japan, Friday, March 31, 2017.

The Australian government said Wednesday it is "extremely disappointed" with Japan's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling.

"From July 2019, after the withdrawal comes into effect on June 30, Japan will conduct commercial whaling within Japan's territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone, and will cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean and Southern Hemisphere", Suga said in a statement.

Importantly, Japan will join Iceland and Norway in openly defying the ban on commercial whale hunting.

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

In going rogue, Japan is yielding up its southern whaling claims, but is also signaling its intention to get back in the boat and restart its commercial whaling program.

"It is really a very unfortunate thing for the International Whaling Commission to lose Japan". Japanese people ate more than 233,000 tons of whale meat per year in 1962, but just 3,000 tons in 2016, according to government data. 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 IWC's supposed mission is to ensure an orderly development of the whaling industry while conserving and managing the world's whale population. In recent years, Japan was often accused of using the guise of "scientific research" as an ethical and legal cover for its hunting trips to Antarctica.

Criticising the decision, Executive director of Greenpeace Japan, said, "It's clear that the government is trying to hide in this announcement at the end of year, away from the spotlight of worldwide media but the world sees this for what it is". Last season, its scientific research expeditions caught almost 600 whales in the Antarctic and the northwest Pacific.

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

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This decision was made after the beginning of the year Japan was unable to convince the ICC to enable it to restore commercial whaling. But it will allow commercial whaling starting in July, despite plummeting demand for whale meat.

During this period over 6,000 whales were saved from the harpoons of Japanese commercial whalers posing as research whalers by Sea Shepherd interventions.

Wildlife groups say Japan's "research" whaling was a thinly veiled attempt to keep the industry alive, making sure boats, skills and a market for whale meat are maintained. Japan was the only country with an ambition to return to commercial whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.

Kindleysides said Japan is able to perform its "scientific whaling" under a permit received from the IWC.

For years the Japanese Government has toyed with this idea of leaving, but every time the foreign ministry stress the importance of global cooperation.

"Japan's position will become weak", he said in an interview.

Nonetheless, Japanese lawmakers want to promote whales not only as a source of protein but as part of Japan's cultural tradition. Japans government has so far failed to resolve these problems.

No doubt this will help the ruling Liberal Democratic Party pick up votes in rural areas, but it's not clear whether young voters who don't see whales as food are likely to punish the party or be ambivalent.

This article was originally published by The Washington Post.



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