Japan Set To Start Commercial Whale Hunting Again In 2019 After 30 Years.

A minke whale is unloaded at a port after a whaling for scientific purposes in Kushiro. Credit: PA
Japan says it is set to restart commercial whale hunting in 2019 after it had been banned for over 30 years. The country has said it is going to withdraw from the International Whale Commission the governing body set up to help whale conservation as they say eating whale is part of the country's culture.
Officially Japan has been part of the IWC since 1951 and commercial whaling has been banned since 1986 a time when the number of some species of the whale had dropped so low, they were on the brink of extinction. Japan had continued whaling over the past three decades, however, this was under a scientific programme, granted as an exception even during the time of the IWC ban. The announcement has spiked fears in conservationists that certain whales, such as minke whales, that are protected by the IWC will now be at risk of being freely hunted by the Japanese. Prior to this Japan hunted whales for 'scientific research' - but also for the meat, a highly controversial practice. It has been reported that anywhere between 200 and 1,200 of the animals are caught by the country's whalers each year to 'investigate stock levels to see whether the whales are endangered or not' but some accuse them of using this as a cover for commercial whaling. Japan has accused the IWC of losing its original aim and wants it to go back to committing to the goal of supporting sustainable commercial whaling, not just conserving the number of whales.
 
In a statement, a government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said commercial whaling would be restricted to Japanese territorial waters and economic zones. This means they would no longer be able to hunt whales in the Antarctic. Politicians in Australia a relatively nearby country to Japan has condemned the Japanese wish to pull out from the IWC.Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Environment Minister Melissa Price said they were 'extremely disappointed' with Japan's decision. In their joint statement, it said: "Australia remains resolutely opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling."Before any formal announcement was made, Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns at Humane Society International in Australia, said Japan would be 'operating completely outside the bounds of international law'.She said: "This is the path of a pirate whaling nation, with a troubling disregard for an international rule."