Japanese whaling towns welcome IWC withdrawal but concerns remain over protests

International Whaling Commission Japan exits whaling commission Japan commercial whaling Japan's territorial waters anti-whaling whaling advocates World news Indian Express

The move sets the stage for Japan to resume commercial whaling activities next year.

The decision was made at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday after the government decided it would be hard to resume commercial whaling while a member of the global body.

Tokyo has made a decision to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC), meaning that Japanese whalers will be able to resume commercial hunting for the first time in over 30 years.

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.

By withdrawing from the commission, Japan will not be able to hunt in major waterways, as United Nations law says all countries must work through "the appropriate global organizations" for conservation.

The Japanese government had tried to persuade the IWC to allow its commercial whaling, but the worldwide organization rejected the bid in September.

Japan has deflected global criticism and staunchly defended commercial whale hunting.

Anti-Whaling protesters at South Bay, Kaikoura.

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

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

"The next great thing about it is that if they leave the IWC, that means the Atlantic whale sanctuary will then go ahead because they've been voting against that for years".

"The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling", he added.

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.

In the 1950s, the practice reached its peak amid growing demand for whale meat as a key source of protein in the years following World War II, when the nation was poor and recovering from the devastation. Japan was the only country with an ambition to return to commercial whaling in the Antarctic Ocean.

"It's clear that the government is trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year, away from the spotlight of global media, but the world sees this for what it is", Greenpeace Japan said in a statement.

It makes no secret however of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables. Japan now hunts about 600 whales annually in the Antarctic and the Northern Pacific.

Tokyo argues that whaling is an important part of Japan's traditions, and Suga said the withdrawal would allow fishermen to "pass our country's rich whaling culture onto the next generation".

"Whale meat is tasty, but I wonder if we need to increase the volume of catches even at the cost of being isolated internationally", a 41-year-old customer at a whale meat restaurant in Tokyo told the Kyodo news agency.

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