Japan to Announce Withdrawal from International Whaling Commission on Wednesday

Japan to Announce Withdrawal from International Whaling Commission on Wednesday”

Japan is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and will resume commercial whaling next year, a government spokesman has announced.

Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, assured the public that commercial whaling "will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones".

The IWC, established in 1946 to conserve and manage the world's whale and cetacean population, introduced a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.

Japan killed at least 488 whales off its coast, in the Antarctic and the Northwest Pacific during the annual hunt that ended in 2017, according to IWC.

The Sankei newspaper said 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 worldwide body. A proposal to allow the commercial hunt of minke whales and other species which Japan believes are "relatively abundant" was recently rejected.

Japanese whaling towns Wednesday welcomed the government's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, but some local residents voiced concern that it may lead to an escalation in protests.

The Japanese government, which began scientific whaling in 1987, a year after the worldwide whaling moratorium was introduced, has long maintained that most whale species are not endangered - six of the world's 13 "great whale species" are classified as endangered, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

A Japanese whaling ship leaves the port of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi prefecture, western Japan to resume whale hunting in the Antarctic.

Reports of the impending decision - an unusual step for Japan, which stresses multilateralism in its diplomacy - had sparked criticism from global conservationist groups.

Nevertheless, so-called scientific research hunts were exceptionally allowed under a controversial clause in 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 now becomes a pirate whaling nation killing these ocean leviathans completely outside the bounds of worldwide law", Humane Society global president Kitty Block said.

However, Japan's conservative government argues that there is a need to pass whaling culture on to the next generation.

Ahead of the announcement, activist groups warned Japan against the withdrawal.

The IWC's moratorium on commercial whaling was adopted in 1982, and Japan halted commercial whaling in 1988.

Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, decried the IWC withdrawal.

"At the IWC general meeting in September this year, it became evident once again that those supporting the sustainable use of whale stocks and those supporting protection can not co-exist, leading us to this conclusion".

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