Japan 'mulling IWC Withdrawal' to Resume Commercial Whaling

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The Greens have also released a statement calling on the government to put more pressure on Japan over its whaling program.

Public broadcaster NHK reports that government officials informed ruling party lawmakers on Thursday.

Supporters of whaling say that it is a Japanese tradition and that foreign critics who consume farmed and hunted animals are hypocrites.

Opponents say Japan's research whaling is a cover for commercial whaling because the whale meat is sold for food.

Japan also suggested in 2007 that it might withdraw from the IWC, in protest at the ban on commercial whaling, but it was later persuaded by the United States and other countries to remain in the organization. "But reports that we will leave the IWC are incorrect".

"So we're very concerned about Japan abandoning multilateralism and rules-based order, and we're concerned about the precedent it might set and if it encourages other countries to do the same".

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However, Nicola Beynon, from HSI in Australia, believes that Tokyo's decision to leave the rules-based order of the IWC would place Japans' North Pacific whaling program completely outside the bounds of global law.

A number of coastal communities in Japan have hunted whales for centuries, but consumption surged after World War Two when whales were the main source of meat. Not satisfied with harpooning whales, it now looks like Japan is threatening to harpoon the future of the IWC.

The government is planning the departure as there is no prospect of resumption as things stand now, due to the moratorium on commercial whaling adopted by the IWC.

If approved, the withdrawal will be effective on June 30, 2019. For instance, Norway and Iceland use technical objections to get around the ban, and Japan historically has claimed it was hunting whales for scientific purposes, The Guardian reported. This past spring, Japan faced pushback after it came to light that Japanese whalers had killed 333 Antarctic minke whales, including 122 pregnant whales and 114 calves, during the summer of 2017, Live Science previously reported.

Japan has previously threatened to quit the IWC, arguing that the moratorium was supposed to be a temporary measure and accusing the IWC of abandoning its original goal - managing the sustainable use of global whale stocks.

Conservation campaigners welcomed the possible end to whaling in the Southern Ocean but warned that by withdrawing from the IWC, Japan risked becoming a "pirate whaling nation".