Japan considering return to commercial whaling

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Coastal communities have hunted whales for centuries, but consumption has plummeted and critics doubt a whaling industry is sustainable, especially as many young Japanese no longer eat the meat. Several IWC member countries, including United States tried to persuade Iceland to end its commercial whaling and later in 2011 after pressure from WWF and others, U.S. government officially declared Iceland in defiance of the IWC ban.

Only in the postwar era has there been a determined global effort to regulate commercial whaling.

In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan wasn't conducting enough research to justify the hunts, and ordered Japan to revoke Antarctic whaling permits.

"Like other inter-governmental organisations, there is a withdrawal process and all member governments have the right to withdraw", Wells wrote, adding that Japan will have to give notice by January 1 if it wants to leave in 2019.

We hope that Japan will reverse its decision and take its place beside the nations trying to undo the damage human activities have done to whale populations.”.

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". Many younger people don't see whales as food.

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. It remains unclear whether Japan can meet this condition by simply cooperating with the IWC's Scientific Committee only.

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislators and the Foreign Ministry were at odds over how to respond to the issue, even though both sides shared displeasure with the IWC's rejection of Japan's reform proposal at the September meeting.

Yoshifumi Kai, head of the Japan Small-Type Whaling Association and a senior official of a fisheries cooperative association in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, welcomed the government's plan. At a House of Representatives plenary session on October 29, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared, "We'll explore all possible measures to resume commercial whaling as early as possible".

The withdrawal from the IWC, which is led by anti-whaling countries, is "unavoidable", he added.