Japan to resume commercial whaling


Japan faced worldwide condemnation today for announcing that it will resume commercial whale hunting after a 30-year hiatus.

With this move, Japan will be able to freely hunt species now protected by the IWC, like minke whales.

Nevertheless, so-called scientific research hunts were exceptionally allowed under a controversial clause in the Antarctic Treaty.

Japan made a decision to withdraw from the organization since its calls for the whaling resumption due to the growing number of whales had not been supported by other states in the IWC, the NHK World broadcaster reported.

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.

The IWC forced a commercial moratorium in the 1980s due to a dwindling whale population.

Japan began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after the worldwide whaling moratorium began.

As a result, Japan will stop hunting in Antarctic waters and the southern hemisphere, a prospect conservation groups had welcomed before it was formally confirmed.

"Commercial whaling to be resumed from July next year will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones".

Mr Suga said Japan will notify the IWC of its decision by 31 December and remains committed to global cooperation on proper management of marine living resources even after its IWC withdrawal.

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Greenpeace Japan Executive Director Sam Annesley accused Japan's government of "trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year" to avoid worldwide scrutiny.

Whale meat was vital in post-WWII Japan but its consumption dropped significantly as the country became wealthier during the following decades.

Japan now uses a scientific exemption to kill hundreds of whales a year, but critics have condemned it as a cover for commercial whaling, noting that meat from the annual hunt often ends up being sold.

Australia, one of Japan's biggest critics on the issue, said it was "extremely disappointed".

The move on Wednesday, which is expected to draw worldwide criticism, came more than three months after the global body for the conservation of whales rejected a Tokyo-led proposal to lift a 32-year ban on the commercial hunting of the mammals.

"But if we don't explain internationally that whales are increasing. people won't understand", she added.

It makes no secret of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables, and argues that stocks of certain whales are now sufficient to allow commercial hunts to resume. This includes 372 minke whales, 26 Bryde's whales, and 90 sei whales.

Officials say the recovery of some whale species justify restarting commercial whaling - but the decision has been denounced.

Astrid Fuchs, program manager for Whale and Dolphin Conservation told National Geographic Japan's decision could have global ramifications.

It has been accused of conducting commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research and has been estimated to kill 450 whales annually.