Japan will restart commercial whaling beginning July 2019
(Image: KODO News/Ap)
"After growing extremely disappointed with the International Whaling Commission (IWC), Japan has decided to pull out from the international whale conservation body.
The land of the rising sun has been hunting whales for more than 800 years, making it part of its culture. In supermarkets, some 1% of meat sold in Japan are whale meat.
In 1986, with many whale species being driven to extinction, IWC decided to step in to stop the practise.
Ever since then, with a ban on commercial whale hunting, Japan continued hunting whales under "scientific research" programmes. The programme has been criticised by activists who believe it just served as a cover-up."
"The scary thing is, with Japan pulling out from the IWC, it has the free reign to hunt any species. So long as they're within the country's territory and economic zones that is, according to Yoshihide Suga, the spokesperson for the government.
Among the species that could potentially be affected are the blue whale, sei whale, bryde's whale, and the sperm whale - all of these species can be found in Japanese waters.
However, Japan has been adamant that the whales have been hunted based on their endangered levels, with minke whales being the most as they're not in the endangered list.
While Greenpeace Japan has come out urging the government to reconsider its decision, Australia has been the most vocal of the critics, expressing disappointment.
"We (Australia) have remained resolutely opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called scientific whaling."
"The value of our very strong relationship with Japan – and they are a special strategic partner – is that we do have opportunities to constantly remind the Japanese government and the community of how important the international community sees these issues,” Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Environment Minister Melissa Price said in a statement.
Japan is not the only country in the world that hunts whales culturally. Iceland, Faroe Islands, and Greenland do it as well.
These countries have been critical of the IWC for not being open to a sustainable catch quota system. Japan's proposal for it in September this year was rejected.
Disgruntled, it has decided to leave the IWC. Yet, the ones to suffer would be the whales."