TOKYO – Japan was considering withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission in an apparent bid to resume commercial whaling, which has been subject to a 30-year ban in the country, state media reported on Thursday.
Japanese authorities said they would have to reconsider Japan’s role in the commission after a September IWC meeting in Brazil, according to the state-owned news agency NHK.
“Japan is considering whether to remain in the International Whaling Commission because of little prospect of being able to resume commercial whaling,” NHK reported.
“The fisheries ministry wants to compile a rough plan on the issue by the end of the year,” the report added.
Japan must notify IWC of its intention to leave the commission before Jan. 1. No decision has been made on the issue yet, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at his daily press conference.
Japan began enforcing a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1988, six years after IWC adopted the measure. In 1989, the country began capturing whales for scientific purposes, a practice that the country says supports marine resource management.
Japanese whaling activity has been criticized by the international community and animal rights organizations, who consider it to be covert commercial fishing since the meat of the studied specimens is later sold.
Japan runs two programs of this type, one off its the northern coast and another in the Antarctic, which was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in March 2014 because it did not serve a scientific purpose.
Japan suspended the program until December of that year, when it resumed captures after introducing a number of changes, including a reduction in the volume of catches.
The Antarctica fleet left the port in November of this year with 333 cetaceans.