Japan Will Resume Commercial Whaling in 2019, Defies Decades-Old Intl Moratorium
Tokyo has voted to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC)
Japan has defied a 1986 international moratorium on hunting endangered species by announcing it will become commercial operations of whaling in 2019, according to a government decision.
Causing outrage amongst animals rights groups and environmentalists, Tokyo has voted to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC), meaning Japanese whalers will be able to continue to hunt for the first time in over 30 years.
Japan said it would inform the IWC of its decision by the year's end.
The announcement comes after IWC declined Japan’s request to admit fishers to hunt minke and other whales protected by the organization.
The environmentalist has called Tokyo "sneaky" by using timing to avoid condemnation.
“It’s clear that the government is trying to sneak in this announcement at the end of the year, away from the spotlight of international media, but the world sees this for what it is,” Greenpeace said.
RT reports: It warned that high-end technology led to overfishing in Japanese waters and high seas, resulting in “the depletion of many whale species.”
Most whale populations have not yet recovered, the NGO said, adding that the list includes “larger whales such as blue whales, fin whales, and sei whales.”
From a technological point of view, modern-day whaling includes using explosive harpoons.
The projectile is typically launched from a cannon, penetrating the whale’s hide and exploding.
Whalers usually target the head of a whale, inflicting heavy brain damage and knocking the giant mammal out, or instantly killing it.
In past years, hundreds of whales were killed in what Japanese officials called “research” or “scientific” efforts.
Nevertheless, so-called scientific research hunts were specially allowed under a controversial clause in the Antarctic Treaty.
Japan is not the first country to resume commercial whaling, as it joins Iceland and Norway in openly defying the IWC's 1986 ban.
Earlier in April, Icelandic fishermen set a target of 191 kills for the season, drawing international criticism.
Whaling is a thorny issue in Japanese society, where the tradition of hunting marine mammals has survived for centuries.
Whale meat was vital in post-WWII Japan, but its consumption dropped significantly as the country became prosperous during the following decades.
However, Japan’s conservative government argues that there is a need to pass whaling culture on to the next generation.
Many members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party do support whaling, and he comes from a constituency where whale hunting remains popular.