Japan to resume commercial whaling

Japan to withdraw from IWC to resume commercial whaling: reports

Australia's environment minister, Melissa Price, said it remained opposed to "all forms of commercial and so-called "scientific whaling", adding: "While we would strongly prefer Japan to remain a party to the convention and a member of the commission, the decision to withdraw is a matter for Japan".

Japan will inform the IWC of its decision by the end of the year, according to Kyodo news agency.

While Japan has hunted whales under the guise of science since the 1980s, this would be the first time in 30 years that it hunted them exclusively for commercial purposes, Kyodo News reported. It then sought to undermine the worldwide ban on commercial whaling, but after its proposals were rejected by a majority vote, it indicated it might quit.

The country has not yet formalized the withdrawal, however, and a government official told The Guardian that the Kyodo report is incorrect.

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Donald Rothwell, a professor at the Australian National University, said that if Japan were to pursue a commercial whaling program in the Antarctic Ocean, it would "directly challenge" the global moratorium on commercial whaling.

The IWC was established in 1946 to conserve and manage the world's whale and cetacean population.

Japan joined the IWC in 1951.

"Japan leaving could, on one side, tip the scales so that it could become an organization that deals with whale science and whale conservation".

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Japan previously threatened to leave the IWC in 2007, but changed its mind after talking with representatives from the United States and other member nations, according to Kyodo News.

"If Japan leaves the International Whaling Commission and continues killing whales.it will be operating completely outside the bounds of international law", Nicola Beynon, of the Humane Society International in Australia, said in a statement.

Anti-whaling groups have expressed concern after reports Japan is considering withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial whaling. Of the 333 minke whales caught during the four-month expedition, 181 were female - including 53 juveniles.

Although Japan halted commercial whaling in line with a moratorium adopted in 1982 by the IWC, it has hunted whales since 1987 for what it calls research purposes, a practice criticised internationally as a cover for commercial whaling. But Japan resumed whaling in the region two years later under a revamped programme that included reducing its catch quota by about two-thirds.

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Iceland, along with Norway, openly defies the IWC's 1986 ban on commercial whale hunting.

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