TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will resume commercial whaling from July in its waters and exclusive economic zone while ending its controversial hunts in the Antarctic, it said on Wednesday, as it announced its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
Australia and New Zealand welcomed the decision to abandon the Antarctic whale hunt, but expressed disappointment that Japan would engage in any killing of the ocean mammals.
The decision, some experts said, allows Japan to save the money it spends to support Antarctic whaling while taking a tough pro-whaling stance – a matter of national pride for some conservatives.
“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 in a statement announcing the decision.
The decision to withdraw from the IWC followed its latest rejection of Japan’s bid to resume commercial whaling at a September meeting, which Mr Suga said showed it was impossible to bridge the gap between whaling advocates and anti-whaling members.
“Australia is opposed to all forms of commercial whaling,” its foreign minister, Marise Payne, said in a statement.