Japan plans to withdraw from IWC to resume commercial whaling

Japan plans to withdraw from IWC to resume commercial whaling

"I support a government decision" to withdraw, former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who now serves as adviser to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's fisheries committee, said in an interview with Japan's NHK television.

"It sets a very unsafe precedent for other global treaties or conventions if Japan were to abandon the world's (whale) conservation and management body", he said by phone.

Anti-whaling groups have expressed concern after reports Japan is considering withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial whaling.

Japan also suggested in 2007 that it might withdraw from the IWC, in protest at the ban on commercial whaling, but it was later persuaded by the United States and other countries to remain in the organization.

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 reports that we will leave the IWC are incorrect". But one year later, Japan resumed hunting in the region, albeit with a reduced quota that was two-thirds of its previous catch, The Guardian reported.

Japan's decision this week was driven by frustrations with what officials see as an anti-whaling agenda at the IWC, according to The Associated Press.

"If commercial whaling based on science is completely denied, and if there's no possibility for the different positions and views to coexist with mutual understanding and respect, then Japan will be pressed to undertake a fundamental reassessment of its position", the minister said.

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But, according to Kyodo News, Japan plans to stop these controversial expeditions anyway, and instead will direct its commercial whalers to seas near the country and to its exclusive economic zone.

Japan hunts whales for what it calls "research purposes" but critics say that's a sham.

The IWC decided on a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982. If it does leave, Japan would join Iceland and Norway in openly defying the moratorium. It is this exception that allows Japan's whaling fleet to embark on its yearly hunt in the icy waters of Antarctica.

September 2018 - The IWC rejects Japan's proposal to resume commercial whaling at an annual meeting in Brazil.

Japan has long towed the line with the IWC, which was established in 1948.

2014 - The International Court of Justice issues an order to halt Japan's research whaling in the Antarctic.

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