Japan announces IWC withdrawal, will resume commercial whaling

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Japan has announced it will pull out of the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial hunts next year.

Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986 after some species were driven nearly to extinction.

"But if we don't explain internationally that whales are increasing. people won't understand", she added.

"Regrettably, we have reached a decision that it is impossible in the IWC to seek the coexistence of states with different views", he said.

"As a result of modern fleet technology, overfishing in both Japanese coastal waters and high seas areas has led to the depletion of many whale species", Greenpeace International said.

Officials have been reacting to the news of Japan's withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), with the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade working on understanding the implications.

Now, the fallout. Australia is "extremely disappointed". "We continue to hope Japan eventually reconsiders its position and will cease all whaling in order to advance the protection of the ocean's ecosystems", Peters said in a statement.

Mr Suga said Japan will notify the IWC of its decision by 31 December and remains committed to global cooperation on proper management of marine living resources even after its IWC withdrawal.

Influential lawmakers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party whose constituencies include whaling communities have long lobbied for a resumption of commercial whaling.

However, Japan's conservative government argues that there is a need to pass whaling culture on to the next generation.

Japanese media said that Japan could no longer take advantage of the IWC exemption for scientific whaling if it withdrew from the group because the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas requires its signatories, including Japan, to work through "the appropriate global organisations" for marine mammal conservation.

According to the Japan Whaling Association, the practice of whaling in Japan is said to date back to the 12th century, when fishermen began hunting the sea creatures with harpoons.

In 2014, the International Court of Justice ordered it to halt its whaling programme in the Southern Ocean, also called the Antarctic Ocean, after determining that the hunting permits granted by authorities were not being used "for purposes of scientific research".

Greenpeace Japan executive director Sam Annesley said the decision was a backwards step for the country.

The announcement had been widely expected and comes after Japan failed in a bid earlier this year to convince the IWC to allow it to resume commercial whaling.

Japan is the biggest financial contributor to the IWC, which may now have to find ways to replace lost funding.

For a number of years, Japan has been killing whales for what they claim was for research, but now it will hunt openly in its own waters.

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