Japan announced its plans to pull out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the 89-member commission. Such a decision sparked an angry reaction from the Australian government and conservationists. in 2019, Japan will join Iceland and Norway in openly defying the ban on commercial whale hunting.
The International Whaling Commission plays a crucial role in international cooperation on whale conservation but Japan prefers to leave that club. Wednesday’s announcement had been widely expected after Japan recently failed to win IWC support for a proposal to change the body’s decision-making process. According to the Japanese government, that move will make it easier for the country to secure enough votes to end the commercial whaling ban, which went into effect in 1986 to protect dwindling whale stocks.
Japan’s decision made angry Australia, its foreign minister Marise Payne and the environment minister, Melissa Price, said their government was “extremely disappointed”: “Their decision to withdraw is regrettable and Australia urges Japan to return to the Convention and Commission as a matter of priority,” Australian ministers added in their joint statement.
Greenpeace Japan accused government’s ending the moratorium
A number of conservationists and Greenpeace community coastal communities have criticised a decision to leave IWC, however, fisheries in Japan have hunted whales for centuries, but consumption in the country surged only after World War Two when whales were the main source of protein. Asahi reported that nowadays whale meat makes up only 0.1% of all meat sold in Japan.
Japan argues that the moratorium was supposed to be a temporary measure and has accused a “dysfunctional” IWC of abandoning its original purpose – managing the sustainable use of global whale stocks.
Japanese fisheries officials claim that populations of certain types of whale – such as the minke – have recovered sufficiently to allow the resumption of “sustainable” hunting.