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Japan to restart commercial whaling after deadlock with International Whaling Commission

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The Japanese Government has confirmed it will restart commercial whaling in July, exiting the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

It will stop its so-called scientific whaling in the Antarctic Ocean, and only fish in seas near Japan and the country’s exclusive economic zone.

Japan has long been fed up with the deadlock at the IWC, with pro- and anti-whaling nations unable to agree on a way forward for the organisation.

Japan’s request for a resumption of commercial whaling was most recently denied at an IWC meeting in September.

Japan will not be able to continue research whaling in Antarctic waters, because countries that do so are required by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) to join the IWC.

“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,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

“Although scientific evidence has confirmed that certain whale species/stocks of whales are abundant, those member states that focus exclusively on the protection of whales, while ignoring the other stated objective of the ICRW, refused to agree to take any tangible steps towards reaching a common position that would ensure the sustainable management of whale resources.”

Mr Suga said that the ICRW — which details the orderly development of the whaling industry — was not taken into account at the IWC’s most recent meeting.

“Quite regrettably, it unveiled the fact that it is not possible in the IWC even to seek the coexistence of states with different views,” he said.

“Consequently, Japan has been led to make its decision.”

Japan says it will participate in IWC talks as an observer.

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