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Japan officially announces IWC withdrawal; will resume commercial whaling

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By Shingo Ito and Miwa Suzuki

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it became evident once again that those supporting the sustainable use of whale stocks

There is no possible sustainable use of whales. This is precisely this productivist logic that has brought a mass extension of the wild fauna on this Earth. Is that difficult to understand? A recent study has shown that farming animals which we use to produce our meat and humans represent 96% of all living mammals on Earth, the rest only 4%. So how they can come up and talk about sustainability?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japan can now cross out that "RESEARCH" sign off the whaling ship and replace it with "COMMERCIAL".

3 ( +20 / -17 )

"My whale or the highway" is an expression the polite Japanese would refrain from uttering, but this is an endemic attitude honed by centuries of samurai arrogance and greed.

-7 ( +12 / -19 )

Another diplomatic fail. And another reason to build more freezes to contain blubber that no one what's to eat. Tried to sell it as dog food, even dogs (who eat their own vomit) didn't want it. But my and your tax will support this. And children will have to gag this tripe down, what a memory! Thank god the same children forced to eat this crap will have to pay for it in the future, because no one in the present will.

0 ( +17 / -17 )

Well at least they are now being honest about their intentions.

I trust they can then also live with the justified criticism.

9 ( +22 / -13 )

Merry Christmas, Mr. Kujira.

This remains an utterly incomprehensible attitude to me.  I don't see many whale restaurants or a lot of whale meat and certainly don't hear friends or colleagues demanding more of it.

Lots of Japanese (indeed worldwide) "traditions" have been allowed to lapse over the passage of time.  Why they cling so resolutely to this one is a mystery.

-1 ( +16 / -17 )

Mr. Nikai, LDP chief secretary is from Wakayama prefecture where they have a long history of whaling. He is pushing whaling strongly. Indifference of Japanese people about the whaling may be they still think whales fish.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

In fact Abe is probably one of the worst leader that this country has ever had. His reign based on silly nationalism has driven backward instead of forward a country which already desperately needed to modernized itself and enter the 21th century. This is a pathetic development and it just shows to the entire world that this country has no will to join leading countries with civilized people that are working on finding solutions to the dramatic environmental crisis we are witnessing.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

Bad move before the Olympics. It will not be good publicity for the country.

Also, the hunting of whales will hurt whale watching businesses, as it does in Iceland. Bad move economically.

The government does not care about sustainability, profitable business or so called "tradition" : it cares only about its ultra-conservative voters.

-2 ( +14 / -16 )

Ugh, I don't know why whale meat is so popular anyway, it tastes terrible.

To be honest, there should be a high ranking global association that can hand out fines to countries that ignore bans on killing animals etc. China for their Ivory hunt in Africa, Japan for their whales, etc etc.

-3 ( +12 / -15 )

The 2020 Olympics will be a great platform to protest Japan's treatment of our sentient sea friends.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

Well, they had better paint out that ‘RESEARCH’ on the sides of their vessels. They can replace it with a target.

-7 ( +10 / -17 )

Ending Antarctic whaling is clearly good. Ending the stupid lie about 'research' whaling also clearly good. If there is a small amount of traditional coastal whaling around Japan which is truly commercial, i.e. no longer subsidised by the taxpayer to any extent, I think that is reasonable. With luck the severe lack of demand would end it pretty soon anyway.

17 ( +22 / -5 )

"Commercial whaling to be resumed from July next year will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. We will not hunt in the Antarctic waters or in the southern hemisphere," Suga added.

Well, dang, I guess there will be no more Sea Shepherd vs. Japanese whalers encounters Down Under!

Seriously, though, the silver lining to this is that their whaling will be limited to the water near Japan, as opposed to half a world away.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Ending Antarctic whaling is clearly good. Ending the stupid lie about 'research' whaling also clearly good. If there is a small amount of traditional coastal whaling around Japan which is truly commercial, i.e. no longer subsidised by the taxpayer to any extent, I think that is reasonable. With luck the severe lack of demand would end it pretty soon anyway.

Great post @theastired. It's probably the least bad solution.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Great news! I've been waiting so long for whale blubber to come back on the menu at the local sushi train shop.

-1 ( +14 / -15 )

The truth is Japan's motivation to hunt more whales is solely driven by commercial interests, meaning a few people can make money from it and they sell the all thing as "culture preservation" to an uneducated population. Although the consumption of whale is presumably low by volume, it is still well profitable since the meat is sold at high price. So a few people really do make money from it, including the corrupted people in the government because they are more than happy to receive the "compensations" to take this kind of decision. Corrupted Japan's greedy oligarchy is doing well, and a naive population to which your comment is a perfect representation, continues to be dragged backward to the past.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I chuckle on the rush to go out to international waters as a "Japanese tradition" without having taking the time to wipe the temporary "research" paint off the side of the ship, because it sure was never about science. Now they don't have to lie any more from top to bottom of society, and they can stop calling science and mayonnaise comparisons "research". What they can't do anymore is be trusted in international dealings, since if they cannot have their way they just cry, threaten, and then run.

-3 ( +12 / -15 )

smith, that has to be an old file photo above. Maybe the whalers have a national poll to find a nice English word to paint instead of RESEARCH. How about a planet name, like MERCURY?

-7 ( +8 / -15 )

Time to start donating money to Greenpeace or any organization that will interfere with their operations. Strictly non-violently, of course.

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

The Abe Cabinet is being sincere about their reason for government ships hunting whales. It is simply to maintain adequate food sources for the population in a time of Trade War. Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions.

-4 ( +13 / -17 )

There is no justification for commercial or "scientific" whaling in the 21st century.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

"Commercial whaling to be resumed from July next year will be limited to Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. We will not hunt in the Antarctic waters or in the southern hemisphere,

This statement is just a bit of malarky to sweeten the blow to the IWC members who have been against Japan's continued commercial hunting of whales for the decades they have exploiting the IWC. How long do you think it will take them to deplete local stocks of whales and then wish to return to the southern oceans? Two seasons? Maybe three seasons? There are not enough whales within Japan's economic zones to make hunting them a viable commercial interest.

Unfortunately, withdrawing from the IWC also means they will no longer have to report their catches nor will they be restricted to which species they hunt. Anything with a blow hole will be fair game and it will be an all out cash-grab slaughter with no conservation or consideration of future stocks. There will be no transparency in Japan's whale hunting either. It will all be conducted behind closed doors, just like they do at Taiji with the dolphins.

-6 ( +11 / -17 )

Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions.

Along with lying through their back teeth and being at one with nature?

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

It is simply to maintain adequate food sources for the population in a time of Trade War.

The above makes no sense whatsoever. Do you really think such nonsense or are you just making it up for the sake of defending Japan at all cost?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is simply to maintain adequate food sources for the population in a time of Trade War.

FYI, Japan wastes 5 million tons of food a year.

Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions.

I've been to Shimonoseki, the home port of the "research" ships. Ironically, I found quite a few abandoned Shinto shrines that were half destroyed. I guess Japan doesn't care about its own culture, or decided that whaling is more important than their state religion and, you know, half their tradition.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Gambare:  "It is simply to maintain adequate food sources for the population in a time of Trade War. Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions."

Despite the high quantity of mercury in this 'food source' and the fact that dolphin meat is considered 'whale' here?

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

Shame on Japan, for greed and self interest you want to destroy these beautiful animals, Shame on you....

Its going to take Japanese people protesting and refusing to buy whale meat for this to end. They have to decide that this practice is not worth it and make it unprofitable if we ever hope to end this slaughter.

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

I doubt there is a real market for whale meat in Japan. No one I know has eaten it or even wants to try.

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

 It is simply to maintain adequate food sources for the population in a time of Trade War. Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions.

LOL!

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

The good burghers of Minamiboso have a long history of catching and eating whales and seem to enjoy doing so to this day. Should they too desist just to mollify the sanctimonious opponents of whaling who themselves could be eating various types of fish, fowl and animals.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Whales are not going to replace the ever dwindling fish stocks from the polluted and overfished oceans that will eventually put sushi restaurants out of business, except for the high-end eateries catering to the rich and their enablers from the political class. In the meantime, the rest of our world's biodiversity goes to hell in a supermarket or a fast-food joint.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions.

I notice that there are a few Japanese based website sites around these days (written in Japanese) stating how bad food is in other countries.

Please, respect the culture, food and traditions of other countries.

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

Well at least they are now being honest about their intentions.

I thought the same. The farce of 'research' just made them look dishonest and shady.

Now, they can claim that they are catering to a demand for this 'traditional' dish.

Oh, hang on...

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

 The farce of 'research' just made them look dishonest and shady.

Japan had been allowed only "research" hunt from IWC.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

Japan should stop whaling. A young man interviewed by NHK about the news said "Are they keeping the whales at aquariums?" Old Japanese believed whales food while young generation thinks whales animal. Civilization is above culture.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

Could see it coming. I think its a fair argument to say that most of the IWC members have no interest in supporting whaling and for Japan to continue to be a member was always going to be an issue. What Japan does in its terroritoral waters is its business by in large and the international community has no way to interfere without sparking trouble. Since i dont support whaling, like most Aussies Im glad they are out of the southern ocean and since the other whaling countries are European hopefully that area will continue to serve as a sanctuary.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Great news! I've been waiting so long for whale blubber to come back on the menu at the local sushi train shop.

Why? Can you not survive without eating sentient endangered species?

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions.

We do. Those of us who live, work and love in Japan wouldn't be here if we didn't respect this country and the people.

And there are plenty of people who see this cruel business as outdated and no longer needed.

Not all culture and tradition is infallible.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am glad they finally decided to leave that organization. What’s the point joining something that would never even once vote in your favor and only see you as a cash machine to milk out of? That last voting was a joke and disgrace as they called it democratic. Whaling was always a losing business anyway,but is kinda our tradition and something to remember by from our way of life from before. Also what will happen to all the ships and workers if they can’t hunt whale anymore? No point in following their enforce rules if they never respected ours anyway. I still remember those anti-whaling activists happily cursing us when the tsunami happen in 2011. They love these creatures more than human lives,they might as well married them.

2 ( +16 / -14 )

@Ganbare Japan - Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions.

Oh, is that right? And, what foreign cultural traditions is Japan respecting by continuing to hunt whales? This is a very Japanese thing. They always demand respect for their culture, but do nothing to earn respect.

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

Why? Can you not survive without eating sentient endangered species?

Sorry. Forgot the mark

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

(/sarcasm) mark

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

It was only a matter of time... Everybody knows they were never doing any real research. Whalers included.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

Japan has practiced sustainable whaling for decades now. No species of whale have gone extinct because of Japan.

This whales get treated 10x better then raising animals in a farm, with no room to move, pumped with antibiotics, used at every step of the process.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can any of the proud whale eaters explain just why they deserve to feast on the creatures?

Spare us the tradition nonsense and be honest.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

If some people want to eat it (which some clearly do, as I frequently see it in the supermarket, despite the claims here that nobody does), and it is caught sustainably, it's nobody else's business.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

They forgot to paint the double quotes on the word “Research”

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

Thailand legalized medical marijuana, a 3rd world country taking 5 steps forward. Japan basically, legalizing whaling, a supposed 1st world economic power still living in the dark ages.

LOL. Like Japan cares about gaijin. Like Japan cares what anyone else in the world is doing.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

stepoutside, Thailand is not a 3rd world country.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Japan has tried to play by the IWC rules for the last 30 years by complying with the IWC Charter, carrying out Scientific Whaling in accordance with IWC Ariticle VIII only to be vilified by the anti-whaling crowd who have destroyed the IWC as a functional organization. So here are the winners and losers:

Japan no longer has to fund the useless IWC political circus which is on it's deathbed anyway, Now there will only be non-whaling nations and whaling nations with no forum for mutual discussion. Nor will there be an international conservation schedule based on scientific data of any value. What good with that be applied to countries that don't whale? Ultimately the whales lose.

Japan will hunt in territorial waters and it's EEZ, although there is nothing stopping them from hunting in Intnl Waters. Australia wins because they can continue to believe that the Arctic waters are Australian territory which they are not. That is only a claim which is only recognized by 4 countries in the world.

J-Haters will lose because their racism becomes explicit when continuing to vilify Japan for doing exactly what Norway, Iceland and part of Denmark does. Arguments concerning "research whaling" become meaningless because that won't be going on anymore.

Whale worshippers can keep on believing that whales are "something special". They're not. Your hamburgers and porkchops come from equally "sentient" creatures. Cultural Imperialists can continue to live in denial of the fact they are imposing their own views on a different culture. And those with prejudice can keep vilifying Japan which will be doing exactly what some other nations do. Let Japan's commercial whaling determine it's own future, the market will decide. As for the mercury arguments, if you knew anything about Minamata you'd know how seriously Japan takes that issue.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

Whaling isn't animal torture and environmental destruction on a massive scale like intensive farming but on a more positive note it also won't be a sustainable industry if younger Japanese don't view the animals as food.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Yes, let the market decide it's future on it's own. The biggest "killer" of whales is not whaling whether commercial or scientific. It's collisions with ships. But nobody protests this.

http://www.listenforwhales.org/page.aspx?pid=439

https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/21/new-study-far-more-whales-die-from-collisions-with-ships-than-wash-up-on-beaches/

https://us.whales.org/issues/boat-traffic

So just how much of this anti-whaling is really for "the whales"?

8 ( +14 / -6 )

One wonders how long it will be before a ‘Boycott Japan’ movement gets off the ground, possibly targeting the Olympics – mentioned twice, above as a venue for protest. I suspect that the geographic limitation will soon be relaxed.

Personally, I am OK with commercial whaling – just so long as it isn’t served to me, and I am not forced to support it thru taxation. But I cannot see it being a commercial success – without government support, even here in Japan.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Boycot Japanese fish exports.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

One wonders how long it will be before a ‘Boycott Japan’ movement gets off the ground

Very retro, 1980’s idea. Good luck with it, maybe finally 2019 is the year it will get some traction.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Nobody cares enough about the issue to do anything economically related to Japan. Sorry if the truth hurts.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The withdrawal means Japan joins Iceland and Norway in openly defying the IWC's ban on commercial whale hunting.

"There have been no concessions from countries who only place importance on the protection of whales," Suga said. "At the IWC general meeting in September this year, it became evident once again that those supporting the sustainable use of whale stocks and those supporting protection cannot co-exist, leading us to this conclusion."

Japan won't be defying the IWC ban, because the IWC ban only bans IWC members from commercial whale hunting. Because Iceland, Norway, and Japan aren't/won't be IWC members, the IWC ban doesn't apply to them.

The animal-rights activists believe they have won a major victory by losing any control over another whaling nation. Congratulations! Job well done. Better luck next time.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

As long as Japanese happy, that is good enough for the govt.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I am generally against whaling, but i am pleased with this news. No more whaling in international waters, no more shady "research" whaling. What happens now is up to economics. If nobody is buying, then whaling will die off.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I wonder if some countries might put a trade embargo on Japan as a protest?

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Japan had been allowed only "research" hunt from IWC.

Where can the conclusions and publications of the scientific research be found?

Thailand is not a 3rd world country.

Agreed.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I am generally against whaling, but i am pleased with this news. No more whaling in international waters, no more shady "research" whaling. What happens now is up to economics. If nobody is buying, then whaling will die off.

That's a good way to look at it.

In the meantime, the slaughter needs to be brought to an end and it needs to be seen as offensive and unfashionable. In much the same way fur-wearers were subject to ridicule, whale diners should be, too.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Brian WhewayToday  09:26 am JST

I wonder if some countries might put a trade embargo on Japan as a protest?

Are you asking seriously? In all these years what has Australia done in terms of trade with Japan?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Ossan said -

"...if you knew anything about Minamata you'd know how seriously Japan takes that issue."

I'm assuming that's a tongue-in-cheek comment, because history shows deplorable action on behalf successive govts re that poisoning of innocents tragedy.

And re whaling in Japan's EEZ, I suspect that any large mammals caught in the North Pacific will be heavily polluted with an array of toxins and heavy metals. Previous tests have proven so. With the heavy industrial history of N.E. Asia esp China in recent years, I imagine pollutant levels in flesh & blubber to be still high.

If people want to eat whale, then that will be their choice, but data re the safety of consuming such needs to be readily available and updated.

Somehow I doubt it will be.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

So, anything on this chart is now OK to take, including dolphins/porpoises, right?

Cetaceans in the seas around Japan:   https://www.e-kujira.or.jp/kujirapedia/

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

browny1Today  01:48 pm JST

And re whaling in Japan's EEZ, I suspect that any large mammals caught in the North Pacific will be heavily polluted with an array of toxins and heavy metals. Previous tests have proven so. With the heavy industrial history of N.E. Asia esp China in recent years, I imagine pollutant levels in flesh & blubber to be still high.

If people want to eat whale, then that will be their choice, but data re the safety of consuming such needs to be readily available and updated.

Somehow I doubt it will be.

If you believe that, then just don't eat it. If people choose to eat it it's not your concern or mine. The responsibility of food related health concerns rests with the Japanese government. This applies to all foods, not just whale meat.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Toasted HereticToday  10:00 am JST

In the meantime, the slaughter needs to be brought to an end and it needs to be seen as offensive and unfashionable. In much the same way fur-wearers were subject to ridicule, whale diners should be, too.

And what did I just say about Cultural Imperialists? I find such people just as offensive.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Backwards Japan in action again. Maybe they can parade the dead whale carcasses around at the olympic opening ceremony as an example of Japanese "tradition".

I do hope that food safety laws will be applied to all whale meat caught by the commercial whalers. If the mercury content is too high (and it will be) the meat should be destroyed. With profits going up in smoke the whaling business will soon be bankrupt.

Of course, what will really happen is that the food safety laws will be ignored and our taxes will be wasted to subsidise "commercial" whalers. That's 21st century Japan for you.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Ossan - thanks for your reply.

You said - "..If you believe that, then just don't eat it. If people choose to eat it it's not your concern or mine.."

But I beg to differ. I am allowed to have an opinion re what people consume.

As, I said it's their choice, but heaven forbid the day we can't be concerned about something esp re health.

And the Govt is NOT the only body responsible for food safety. Wholesalers, retailers and individuals themselves bear great responsibility. Esp so considering many believe the Govt's laws & regulations are not strict enough, not clear enough and not enforced enough.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I am not in favor of killing wales but at least as far as I am informed all of the poor creature is used and nothing goes to waste. What bothers me to madness is the fact that we can't prevent the Shark fin hunting, a gruesome practice of cutting off the living creatures fins and dumping the Shark back in to the sea to die slow painful death. At least if the Complete animal is taken and consumed that can be justified by saying that we are naturally created top of the feeding chain but this finn cutting practice has no justification and should be banned. Any establishment that offers any Shark or Whale based meals will not get any of my money for sure.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But Japan will not be able to continue the so-called scientific research hunts in the Antarctic that it has been exceptionally allowed as an IWC member under the Antarctic Treaty.

Yes, they will be able to. They have said they won't but that is their decision and nothing prevents them from hunting in the international waters around Antarctica.

There is no possible sustainable use of whales.

Sure there is. Many species that were under threat from hunting have bounced back with sustainable hunts, deer, bison, polar bears, wolves, etc. Whales do have a longer life cycle, but the setting of quotas take that into account.

Also, the hunting of whales will hurt whale watching businesses, as it does in Iceland. Bad move economically.

They have been hunting whales for decades and whale watching businesses are doing fine.

Well, dang, I guess there will be no more Sea Shepherd vs. Japanese whalers encounters Down Under!

Sea Shepherd gave up years ago and moved on to more profitable issues to exploit.

Time to start donating money to Greenpeace or any organization that will interfere with their operations

Good luck finding one.

Can you not survive without eating sentient endangered species?

Many, if not most, whale species aren't endangered.

the useless IWC political circus which is on it's deathbed anyway

Truly. This will lead to the slow decline of the IWC. Many small nations where paid to join in the earlier 80s specifically to get the moratorioum passed. They had their dues paid by outside groups and had no real interest in the IWC. With Japan gone their financial backers will have no reason to keep up the payments so expect those countries to leave too. IMO within 5 years there will be fewer than 30 countries in the IWC, down from todays 80+.

Where can the conclusions and publications of the scientific research be found?

In numerous scientific publications and with the IWCs Scientific Committee.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Anyone know how many LDP politicians rely on votes in whaling communities for re-election?

BintaroDec. 26  04:21 pm JST

Please, respect Japanese culture, food and traditions."

I've been to Shimonoseki, the home port of the "research" ships. Ironically, I found quite a few abandoned Shinto shrines that were half destroyed.

For instance, isn't Shimonoseki in Shinzo Abe's Yamaguchi constituency?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

NYT Op-ed:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/31/opinion/editorials/japan-whale-hunt-whaling.html

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But as in most other former whaling regions, the Japanese taste for whale meat has sharply declined over the decades. A survey conducted in 2012 by the Nippon Research Center on behalf of the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that nearly 90 percent of Japanese had not bought whale meat in the previous year, and only about a quarter of Japanese supported whaling. As of 2013, the Japanese whaling industry employed fewer than 1,000 people and required government subsidies to survive. That is hardly equivalent to the cultural importance of whale hunting in indigenous communities in Alaska or Greenland, which the whaling commission allows.

But the fact is that most of the world — and most Japanese — have moved on from the days when killing whales was deemed an acceptable pursuit. Like shooting elephants or rhinoceroses for trophies, cruelly killing animals now shown to possess a high level of intelligence on the pretense that the practice has a cultural importance is untenable. Japan, moreover, has not said how many whales it plans to catch in its waters, or what impact this might have on global whale populations.

In the end, the Japanese government’s decision to quit the commission is no more than a gambit by nationalist politicians to posture as defenders of a traditional way of life, akin to President Trump’s defense of coal mining. They know it won’t bring back an industry that has had its day, or a diet that nobody needs any longer.

Withdrawing from the whaling commission for short-term political gain is a dangerous and foolish move, especially for an advanced country like Japan that has generally supported multilateral efforts on the environment. The commission is not a Western cultural imposition, as some Japanese nationalists might portray it, but the expression of a universal obligation to manage dwindling resources and protect the planet, including the magnificent giants of the oceans.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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