Quitting whaling commission is risky gambit by Japan

Such a move would spark international criticism against Japan over whale conservation

Such a move would spark international criticism against Japan over whale conservation

If withdrawing, Japan has to notify IWC by January 1, according to Kyodo News. In response, the government of Japan threatened to leave the IWC, with Japan saying the country would now conduct a 'fundamental reassessment of its membership of the IWC'.

However, in September 2018, IWC denied the request made by the country to resume commercial whaling.

If these reports are true, Australians can celebrate the end of whaling in our Southern Oceans, however the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is alarmed at the potential consequences of unregulated whaling by Japan elsewhere, and concerned for the future of the IWC.

Coastal communities have hunted whales for centuries, but consumption has plummeted and critics doubt a whaling industry is sustainable, especially as many young Japanese no longer eat the meat. IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in the 1980s due to dwindling stocks. Many younger people don't see whales as food.

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Apart from Japan, countries such as Iceland continue to hunt whales for their markets and for such commercial requirement over 1000 whales a year are being killed.

Japan should remain in the International Whaling Commission and should stop all "scientific whaling", National's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says. Earlier this year, Japan tried to persuade the commission to drop its ban on commercial whaling.

Many media are reporting that Japan is set to withdraw from the IWC shortly.

Anti-whaling countries could also take legal action against Japan if Japanese fishermen catch minke whales, which are subject to IWC restrictions, even if the animals are caught within Japan's exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

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Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association and a senior official of a fisheries cooperative association in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, welcomed the government's plan.

Japan chose to pull out of the IWC via the initiative of politicians, rather than ministry bureaucrats. During that meeting, a Japanese proposal to reorganize the commission and allow for a resumption of commercial whaling was rejected by a vote of 41 to 27, with two nations abstaining. At a House of Representatives plenary session on October 29, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared, "We'll explore all possible measures to resume commercial whaling as early as possible".

"Japan has failed to bully the IWC into permitting a return to the cruel and outdated industrial whaling of the past", continued Kindleysides.

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