Japan to Launch Commercial Whaling Operations This Summer

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Japan has said the IWC has become more like an opponent of whaling than an organization aiming for sustainability.

Japan said on Wednesday that it would withdraw from an worldwide agreement and resume commercial whaling, a defiant move to prop up an industry that still has cultural significance there, despite plummeting demand for whale meat.

This decision was made after the beginning of the year Japan was unable to convince the ICC to enable it to restore commercial whaling.

"Commercial whaling to be resumed from July next year will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones". Suga said in a statement Japan won't hunt the sea mammals in the Southern Ocean or the southern hemisphere, where whalers sometimes fight off environmental activists with water cannons.

Leaving the IWC means Japanese whalers will be able to resume hunting in Japanese coastal waters of minke and other whales now protected by the IWC.

This and the verdict of the International Court of Justice that exposed Japanese research as fraudulent, coupled with worldwide condemnation of their Southern Ocean activities has in the opinion of Captain Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd led to this decision to declare they will openly undertake commercial whaling activities.

At a September meeting of the IWC in Brazil, Japan attempted to establish a number of measures that would allow the commercial hunting of "abundant whale stocks/species"; as the BBC reports, Japan primarily kills minke whales, which are protected by the IWC but not now endangered.

While the announcement drew immediate criticism from anti-whaling nations and groups, .

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The Japanese government, under pressure from the local fishing industry, has decided it could not restart commercial whaling while being a member of the global body responsible for the conservation of whales.

Ahead of the announcement the Australian Marine Conservation Society said Australians would be able to celebrate the end of whaling in the country's Southern Ocean but remained alarmed about the potential consequences of unregulated whaling by Japan elsewhere.

The IWC's supposed mission is to ensure an orderly development of the whaling industry while conserving and managing the world's whale population. But while whale meat was a vital food source in Japan as the country struggled to recover from the devastation of WWII, it is rarely eaten today. This will be the previous year of Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean, ' he said.

Japan says it will be free to pick up the harpoons again for commercial whaling by July. At the September meeting, the IWC also passed a non-binding "Florianopolis Declaration", which asserts that whaling is no longer an economic necessity. Japanese officials say continuing to attend IWC meetings fulfills this obligation.

Former Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who now serves as adviser to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's fisheries committee, said he supported a decision to withdraw from the IWC, in an interview with Japan's NHK television.

Fisheries officials have said Japan annually consumes thousands of tons of whale meat from the research hunts, mainly by older Japanese seeking a nostalgic meal.

Japan's vice-minister for fisheries Masaaki Taniai said after that vote that Tokyo would be "pressed to undertake a fundamental reassessment of its position as a member of the IWC".

Japan also explained that even after the withdrawal, .it will continue to contribute to preserving maritime resources by conducting whaling within the catch limit of the IWC.

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