TOKYO – Japan announced on Wednesday it will withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling by July next year.
The decision was announced in an official statement by Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga, who said whaling will resume within Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zones.
Japan will not continue to hunt in the Antarctic or other parts of the Southern Hemisphere, the statement said.
The IWC was created nearly seven decades ago to preserve whales and prevent their indiscriminate hunting.
Japan has been a member of the IWC since 1951. The country has said it conducts whaling for research purposes only, although environmental organizations have claimed it has been covertly hunting commercially.
Greenpeace Japan on Wednesday condemned the “sneaky” decision to withdraw.
“It’s clear that the government is trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of year, away from the spotlight of international media, but the world sees this for what it is. 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,” Sam Annesley, Greenpeace Japan executive director, said in a statement.
“The government of Japan must urgently act to conserve marine ecosystems, rather than resume commercial whaling,” he added.
Suga’s statement said for 30 years Japan has been seeking solutions based on scientific data for sustainable commercial whaling and that the IWC has failed to dutifully review the moratorium.
It added that Japan has been unable to find common ground with anti-whaling communities and the IWC meeting in September showed it was impossible for the two sides to co-exist within the forum.
The government said it will hunt within IWC capture quotas and participate in the organization as an observer after its withdrawal.