Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission on Sunday after more than 60 years of membership, as it plans to resume commercial whaling amid criticism from anti-whaling states and conservation groups.
Japan exited the IWC in its first walkout from a major international organization after three decades of lobbying for the restart of commercial whaling, reports Kyodo News Agency.
It remains unclear whether there will be an increase in demand for whale meat even if commercial hunting begins for the first time in 31 years.
The decision came after Japan’s latest proposal to resume commercial whaling was voted down at the annual IWC meeting last September.
Tokyo had threatened to leave the international organization that remains divided between pro- and anti-whaling nations and others that support one side or the other.
Japan halted commercial whaling in line with a moratorium adopted in 1982 by the IWC which Japan joined in 1951.
However, it started hunting whales for what it claimed were research purposes in the Antarctic and northwest Pacific oceans in 1987 and in 1994, respectively, a practice criticized internationally as a cover for commercial whaling.
Meat from the captured whales was sold domestically.
Japan will restart commercial whaling from Monday in nearby waters and within its exclusive economic zone but not in the Antarctic Ocean, where the country had carried out “scientific whaling” for what it said were research purposes.