Japan to withdraw from IWC to resume commercial whaling: reports
22 December, 2018, 04:44
Japan is considering leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunts, the Fisheries Agency said Thursday, after unsuccessfully campaigning for decades within the organization to gain support for the cause.
In response to being voted down, the government delegation expressed the possibility that Japan could withdraw from the IWC, saying, "If the IWC does not permit any form of commercial whaling and there is no potential for two different stances or ideas to coexist, Japan cannot help but assess all possible options".
A Japanese whaling fleets leaves the city of Ishinomaki in April 2014 as a Japan Coast Guard vessel provides security.
Australia's Environment Minister Melissa Price said the government would prefer Japan remain part of the International Whaling Commission, but any decision about it withdrawing from the IWC is entirely a matter for Tokyo.
The country can not continue to hunt whales for research once they withdraw from the IWC.
Following an IWC moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982, Japan claimed to have stopped commercial whaling. It introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 after some species had been fished to near extinction.
Japan has hunted whales in the Southern Ocean since 1987 for what it calls "scientific research" purposes, but this has been criticized internationally as a cover for commercial purposes.
But critics say they doubt if a country with an aging and shrinking population can develop a sustainable whaling industry if it returns to commercial hunts.
Under IWC rules, a withdrawal decision becomes effective, in principle, on June 30 following notification to the commission by the previous January 1.
In the past, the country also threatened to step out of the International Whaling Commission. It is expected its departure will be opposed globally, particularly among anti-whaling nations. It could be that the other countries could say: "'Well Japan's not in it, then it's not worth it, '" Slooten said, adding that the Japanese delegation may have "misjudged" a likely global backlash that could be provoked if Japan went through with its plans.
"There are fishermen in Japan making their living by whaling and we can't simply end it", one of the officials said.
Japan joined the IWC in 1951. It then sought to undermine the worldwide ban on commercial whaling, but after its proposals were rejected by a majority vote, it indicated it might quit.
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