Japan Announces It Will Resume Commercial Whaling Next Year

Japan is to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling from July, abandoning a decades-old campaign to persuade the commission to allow it to hunt whales commercially.

The announcement was made on Wednesday.

Japan’s commercial whaling will be limited to its own territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who made the announcement at a news conference after a cabinet decision on Tuesday.

A minke whale is landed from a research whaling vessel in Kushiro, Hokkaido Prefecture. Image: AAP

“From July 2019, after the withdrawal comes into effect on June 30, Japan will conduct commercial whaling within Japan’s territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone, and will cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean/the Southern Hemisphere,” Suga said in a statement.

“The whaling will be conducted in accordance with international law and within the catch limits calculated in accordance with the method adopted by the IWC to avoid negative impact on cetacean resources,” he said.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announces the country's decision. Image: AAP

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Japan’s decision followed the IWC’s latest rejection of its bid to resume commercial whaling at a September meeting, which Suga said showed it was impossible to bridge the gap between whaling advocates and anti-whaling members.

Reports of the impending decision - an unusual step for Japan, which stresses multilateralism in its diplomacy - had sparked criticism from international conservationist groups.