Thu, Dec 27, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Japan to withdraw from commission, restart whaling

Reuters, TOKYO

A minke whale killed for scientific purposes is unloaded at a port in Kushiro, Japan, in September last year.

Photo: AP / Kyodo News

Japan yesterday said that it plans to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling from July, abandoning a decades-old campaign to persuade the commission to allow it to hunt whales commercially.

The announcement drew criticism from anti-whaling groups and others, with Australia saying that it was “extremely disappointed” and New Zealand regretting the resumption of the “outdated and unnecessary” commercial killing of whales.

Japan’s commercial whaling would be limited to its own territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone, said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who made the announcement at a news conference after a Cabinet decision on Tuesday.

“Japan will conduct commercial whaling within Japan’s territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone, and will cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere,” Suga said in a statement.

The decision followed the commission’s latest rejection of its bid to resume commercial whaling at a meeting in September last year, which Suga said showed that it was impossible to bridge the gap between whaling and anti-whaling advocates.

The decision — an unusual step for Japan, which stresses multilateralism — sparked swift criticism.

New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters welcomed Japan’s decision to halt whaling in the Southern Ocean, but said he was disappointed with the decision to resume commercial whaling in its exclusive economic zone.

“Whaling is an outdated and unnecessary practice. We continue to hope Japan eventually reconsiders its position and will cease all whaling in order to advance the protection of the ocean’s ecosystems,” Peters said in a statement.

Australia urged Japan to return to the commission “as a matter of priority,” Australian Minister of the Environment Melissa Price said in a statement.

“The Australian government is extremely disappointed,” Price added. “Australia remains resolutely opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called ‘scientific’ whaling.”

Japan has long defied such protests to conduct what it calls scientific research whaling, having repeatedly said that its ultimate goal was to whale commercially again.

The International Court of Justice in 2014 ruled that Japan should halt its Antarctic whaling.

Japan suspended its hunt for one season to retool its whaling program with measures such as cutting the number of whales and species targeted, but resumed hunting in the 2015-2016 season, capping its Antarctic catch with a quota of 333 whales annually.

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