Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Japan withdraws from International Whaling Commission

A minke whale is unloaded at a port after a whaling for scientific purposes in Kushiro Japan announces IWC withdrawal to resume commercial whaling
Doris Mccormick | 26 December, 2018, 16:06

Its managing director in New Zealand, Michael Lawry, said while it was concerning endangered whales would now be hunted for commercial purposes near Japan, the decision had a lot of positive outcomes.

"We will not hunt in the Antarctic waters or in the southern hemisphere", top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Japan has announced its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) next year, and will resume commercial hunting in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone from July.

Whale hunting has become a rare thorny subject in Japan's otherwise largely amiable foreign policy, with worldwide opposition only serving to make conservatives dig in deeper in support of the tradition.

Officials say the recovery of some whale species justify restarting commercial whaling - but the decision has been denounced. Additionally, native peoples in the U.S., Russia, and Denmark are allowed to hunt a limited number of whales to meet nutritional and cultural needs, even though the meat is sometimes sold to tourists.

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.

IWC introduced a suspension on all commercial whaling in 1982 due to a dwindling whale population with Japan joining six years later - switching their focus to "research whaling".

"The next great thing about it is that if they leave the IWC, that means the Atlantic whale sanctuary will then go ahead because they've been voting against that for years".

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Some towns in Japan such as Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, have a whaling tradition but have become the focus of intense global pressure by conservation groups.

But Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty.

"It's clear that the government is trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year, away from the spotlight of worldwide media, but the world sees this for what it is", Greenpeace Japan said in a statement.

Despite the fact that Japan officially refrained from whaling for about 30 years, whale meat from time to time could be found in the country's supermarkets and restaurants.

Tokyo argues that whaling is an important part of Japan's traditions, and Suga said the withdrawal would allow fishermen to "pass our country's rich whaling culture onto the next generation".

Abe's own electoral district includes Shimonoseki, a whaling port in western Japan.

It makes no secret however of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables.

Much of the meat ends up in shops, even though most Japanese no longer eat it. Whale consumption accounted for 0.1 percent of all Japanese meat consumption, according to the Asahi newspaper.

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