Japan 'mulling IWC withdrawal' to resume commercial whaling
22 December, 2018, 13:40 | Author: Kristi Owen
Citing unnamed government sources, local news agency Kyodo said a formal decision to withdraw from the IWC would come by the end of the year.
Following an IWC moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982, Japan claimed to have stopped commercial whaling.
"There are fishermen in Japan making their living by whaling and we can't simply end it", an anonymous government official told Kyodo.
At September's IWC meeting in Florianópolis, Brazil, anti-whaling nations led by Australia, the European Union and the USA voted down a Japanese proposal to change the decision-making process - a move that would have made it easier for Japan to secure enough votes to end the commercial whaling ban.
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.
The country can not continue to hunt whales for research once they withdraw from the IWC.
"The International Whaling Commission is the body that is recognised under international law as being responsible for the conservation and management of whales", she said.
The government is planning the departure as there is no prospect of resumption as things stand now, due to the moratorium on commercial whaling adopted by the IWC.
Two countries have withdrawn from the global commission.
Japan needs to notify the IWC by January 1 if it wished to leave.
"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.
Currently, four countries - Iceland, Norway, Canada and Indonesia - conduct commercial whaling of 13 species covered by the IWC moratorium, including blue whales.
But Masayuki Komatsu, a former fisheries official who represented Japan at IWC, questioned if Japan gains anything from withdrawing. Supposedly they wanted to waters, however, only in the own coast, as well as in Japan's economic zone, to go on whaling. Critics accuse Japan, however, has always been to use science as a cover for commercial whaling by the back door.
Moreover, in 2014, the United Nations' International Court of Justice ordered that Japan stop its annual hunts in the Antarctic Ocean, because these hunts were clearly not for scientific purposes but rather for dinner menus.
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