JAKE STURMER: Kim, Tokyo restaurants that serve whale say this is an opportunity to restore culinary culture with whale from Japan's own waters, and that this is a huge step forward.
Faced with collapsing whale stocks, the IWC agreed to a moratorium on commercial whaling from 1986, a move credited with saving several species from extinction.
The decision by Tokyo to withdraw from the InternationalWhaling Commission (IWC), which regulates whaling and has banned it, after 57 years as a member was criticised by allies and conservation groups.
Former Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who now serves as adviser to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's fisheries committee, said he supported a decision to withdraw from the IWC, in an interview with Japan's NHK television.
Japan now joins Iceland and Norway as non-members of the IWC. But Japan has used a loophole to continue hunting whales legally since 1987 for what it claims is scientific research.
"With the Japanese whaling fleet hunting whales in our Southern Ocean, the Australian Government must demand they bring their fleet home immediately and take legal action if they don't".
The scheme to pose as researchers will now be dropped and that means there can be absolutely no justification for hunting whales in an internationally established whale sanctuary.
Greenpeace has criticised Japan’s decision
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.
Leaving the IWC means Japanese whalers will be able to resume hunting in Japanese coastal waters of minke and other whales now protected by the IWC.
Both Australia and New Zealand issued statements saying they were disappointed by the decision, but welcomed the end to Southern Ocean hunting.
Australia urged Japan to return to the IWC "as a matter of priority", its environment minister, Melissa Price, said in a statement.
The IWC's supposed mission is to ensure an orderly development of the whaling industry while conserving and managing the world's whale population.
Moronuki said Japan is starting with a modest plan because it has to figure out if or how commercial whaling can be a viable industry.
Under its research program, Japan has been killing 850 Antarctic minke a year, 220 common minke, 100 sei whales, 50 Bryde's whales, 50 fin whales and 10 sperm whales.
Japanese Fisheries Agency official and long-time IWC negotiator Hideki Moronuki said Japan would use the IWC's method to carefully determine a catch quota on the basis of science, but declined to give an estimate.
In September 2018, the majority of member nations at the IWC annual symposium in Brazil approved a non-binding resolution stating that commercial whaling was no longer a valid economic activity, or needed for scientific research. "What's most important is to have a diverse and stable food supply", he said. A 2013 survey found that whale consumption in Japan was at just one percent of its peak in the 1960s, and stockpiles of unsold whale meat had reached 5,000 tons. Last season, its scientific research expeditions caught almost 600 whales in the Antarctic and the northwest Pacific. Whale hunting has become a rare thorny subject in Japan's otherwise largely amiable foreign policy, with global opposition only prompting conservatives to dig in deeper in support of the tradition.
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