Whaling focus shifts to waters near Japan with exit from IWC

Whaling focus shifts to waters near Japan with exit from IWC

But critics say they doubt if a country with an aging and shrinking population can develop a sustainable whaling industry if it returns to commercial hunts. After leaving the IWC, Japan would be able to catch minke and other whale species in waters near the nation and inside its EEZ, so the government plans to resume commercial whaling of species whose stocks have sufficiently recovered.

"National supports the IWC's moratorium on whaling that was agreed in 1986".

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.

The IWC's annual meeting in Brazil this past September prompted Japan to withdraw from the organization.

Now Tokyo is considering leaving the commission and resuming commercial whaling.

Abe's electoral power base is Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, a city known as a major whaling base, and ruling Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Toshihiro Nikai is from Wakayama Prefecture, where Japan's traditional whaling techniques originated.

"The hardline stance is nearly like that of the administration of U.S. President (Donald) Trump", said a 41-year-old customer at a whale meat steak restaurant in Tokyo, referring to Japan's decision to pull out of the IWC. "Although there are concerns this might have a negative impact on the preservation of some species, the government should take control and decide details such as how many whales can be caught", Kai said. Under global law, Japan will be banned from whaling in the Antarctic Sea if it does not belong to the worldwide body. It remains unclear whether Japan can meet this condition by simply cooperating with the IWC's Scientific Committee only.

Japanese officials have said the whaling organization is supposed to pursue sustainability but has become an anti-whaling body.

"This is devastating news for the whales and we can only hope that conservation-minded countries like the United Kingdom will take appropriate measures to respond to Japan's decision, including the threat of sanctions".

Japan made a decision to pull out of the IWC via the initiative of politicians, rather than ministry bureaucrats.

Following this statement, the attitude within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the issue shifted to "whaling no longer being an issue in which bureaucrats can intervene", a senior ministry bureaucrat explained.

The withdrawal from the IWC, which is led by anti-whaling countries, is "unavoidable", he added.

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