Japanese government confirmed on Wednesday that the country will be quitting the International Whaling Commission, resuming commercial whaling for the first time in over three decades. Japan has received international criticism for the decision
The Japanese government chief spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga, revealed on Wednesday that Japan would resume commercial whaling from July 2019. The decision ends an over 30 year long ban on commercial whaling in the country. The government spokesperson further added that Japan would officially inform the International Whaling Commission (IWC) about its withdrawal by the end of this year, resulting in the country’s official withdrawal by the end of June, 2019.
The decision, which, came soon after Japan’s proposal to change the IWC’s decision making process, was not supported by the 89-member commission. The change in the decision making process was expected to have resulted in the reversal of the ban on commercial whaling established in 1986.
Since the announcement, Greenpeace Japan has criticised the government for releasing the news around New Year to avoid the international media spotlight. The Greenpeace Japan Executive Director, Sam Annesley said, “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.”
Previously, amid speculations about the Japanese withdrawal, Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne and Environment Minister, Melissa Price critiqued Japan for considering leaving the IWC.
Reportedly, the Australian government said it was “extremely disappointed” by the Japanese withdrawal, adding that the IWC “plays a crucial role in international cooperation on whale conservation”. Australia asserted that “the commission is the pre-eminent global body responsible for the conservation and management of whales and leads international efforts to tackle the growing range of threats to whales globally, including by-catch, ship strikes, entanglement, noise, and whaling.” The country also urged Japan to return to the International Whaling Commission “as a matter of priority.”
Apart from Japan, Norway and Iceland also wish to lift the ban on commercial whaling.