Japan Reportedly Will Leave International Whaling Group To Resume Commercial Hunts

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The IWC adopted a declaration calling for the continuation of a moratorium of commercial whaling, impressing upon the worldwide community its commitment to protecting whales.

Japan's decision to exit from the International Whaling Commission carries the risk of forfeiting international trust and damaging momentum for conservation - all in exchange for an uncertain outlook for commercial whaling as demand for whale meat falters.

At the annual IWC meeting in September in Brazil, Japan proposed establishing a committee dedicated to "sustainable whaling", including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Japan could quit the International Whaling Commission so it can resume hunting, it was feared last night.

Disappointed by the IWC decision, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takamori Yoshikawa said, "It has become clear that the IWC will not accept different positions or opinions".

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If these reports are true, Australians can celebrate the end of whaling in our Southern Oceans, however the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is alarmed at the potential consequences of unregulated whaling by Japan elsewhere, and concerned for the future of the IWC.

But Masayuki Komatsu, a former fisheries official who represented Japan at IWC, questioned if Japan gains anything from withdrawing. The government "needs to remove our worries by showing what kind of strategy it will adopt after departure", he added.

The country which has often been in disagreement with IWC whaling restrictions says it will soon return to commercial whaling.

A male resident of the town said, "There are people who have always been waiting for a return of our old practice of giving captured whale (meat) to neighbors".

"Japan has failed to persuade the global courts to allow them to kill whales under the guise of scientific research". In fiscal 1962, some 230,000 tons of whale meat were eaten.

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Kyodo news agency said a formal announcement could come next week, citing unnamed government sources.

In recent seasons, the Japanese whalers have taken 333 whales per year from the Southern Ocean.

Quitting the IWC would render Japan unable to conduct research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean based on the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling because it will lose the exemption from the Antarctic Treaty, which bans taking animals and plants there.

Even as uncertainties remain over whether whaling will pick up again, traditional whaling municipalities are hoping to pass down whaling traditions and techniques they fear would otherwise be lost.

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