TOKYO, Japan (AFP) – Joji Morishita, of the Japanese Whale Research Program (JARPA), has confirmed plans to resume whaling in Antarctic waters. The announcement comes despite increased pressure on Japan to curtail the practice.
On Friday, the International Whaling Commission stated Japan had not provided enough information to justify the planned killing of 4,000 mink whales over the next twelve years. Morishita blamed the IWC’s internal politics for the ruling, stating:
“There is no definite conclusion in the report itself… which is not so surprising in the IWC, because as we know very well the IWC is a divided organisation […] Because of this division, even the scientific committee is always having difficulty of coming up with some kind of a conclusion.”
On Friday, a spokesperson for Greg Hunt, Australia’s Minister of the Environment, warned Japan to proceed with caution after the IWC’s inconclusive report.
#whaling Aus Gov responds on Japan's failure to gain endorsement by IWC Scientific Committee for new #Antarctic hunt: pic.twitter.com/iu75sNhVXH
— Andrew Darby (@looksouth) June 20, 2015
Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986, but Japan has continued the practice under a special exemption for scientific research. Critics claim the island-nation is exploiting a loophole, as whale-meat from specimens captured during expeditions is sold to commercial shops and restaurants.
Whaling in Japan has a long and storied history. The practice first begun in the 12th Century, and whale-meat enjoyed status as a dietary staple until recently, when domestic and international protests caused its popularity to gradually decline. It is still eaten in many parts of the country, however.
Japan isn’t alone in generating controversy. Norway has continued hunting whales for human consumption despite the 1986 moratorium, as many protested the ban and challenged international authority to restrict the practice.
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