Japan is rumoured to be leaving the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an organisation who regulate the conservation of whales. Whilst whaling is barbaric and an outdated practice, the IWC protects species from over-whaling, with many member countries no longer participating in commercial whaling.
Japan has made it clear for a long time that it intends to carry out commercial whaling, using the excuse of ‘scientific research’ as it’s justification for killing whales, much to the rebuke of other member nations.
Withdrawing from the IWC would see Japan able to carry out commercial whaling, despite the overwhelming evidence that whale meat is not popular in many countries, particularly in Japan.
News outlet, Kyodo News, reported on the speculation, stating that it’s rare for Japan to withdraw from an international organisation, and that the country could face backlash as a result.
Japan is also a member of the UN convention on the Law of the Sea, which appeals for the conservation and effective use of marine resources – something which their stance on whaling would conflict with.
Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said: “This snug to multilateralism is unacceptable. We hope that Japan will reverse its decision and take its place beside nations trying to undo the damage human activities have done to whale populations.”
At the IWC meeting in September, Japan was voted down when it suggested lifting the moratorium on whaling – a ban put in place in 1986 to allow whale stocks to recover.
Whilst Japanese officials are yet to formerly announce the decision, it is being widely covered by national media, with the country reportedly being able to set up an independent body if it gets enough countries to sign up, or join a pro-whaling organisation.