Japan to resume commercial whaling after confirming it will quit International Whaling Commission

  1. ITV Report
  • Video report by ITV News Scotland correspondent Peter Smith

Japan is to resume commercial whaling in July after withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission.

On Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said: “Regrettably, we have reached a decision that it is impossible in the IWC to seek the coexistence of states with different views.”

The whaling activity will be limited to the country’s territorial waters and its 200-mile economic zone along its coast.

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 research programme has been criticised as a cover for commercial hunting as the meat is sold on the market at home.

Japan says it is leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunts. Credit: AP

Officials say the recovery of some whale species justify restarting commercial whaling – but the decision has been denounced.

Environmental group Greenpeace condemned the decision and disputed Japan’s view that whale stocks have recovered, saying that ocean life is being threatened by pollution as well as overfishing.

“The declaration today is out of step with the international community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures.

“The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling,” Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said in a statement.

The Australian government, often a vocal critic of Japan’s whaling policies, said it was “extremely disappointed” with Japan’s decision to quit the commission.

However, Australia and New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters welcomed Japan’s withdrawal from the southern ocean.

Two countries including Canada and Iceland have withdrawn from the international bod, with the latter re-joining in 2003 after leaving in 1992.

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