Japan is facing international criticism from environmentalists and other countries after announcing it would lift a moratorium on commercial whaling in July.
Japan will restart its commercial whaling industry after banning the custom for more than three decades, according to Japanese officials. Japan also decided to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the coalition of countries responsible for the 1982 ban on commercial whaling.
Japanese whalers will be allowed to catch whales for commercial use in Japanese territorial waters and inside its economic zone, Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, according to The Guardian.
Environmental organizations and other countries criticized Japan after the announcement, alleging the ban is for the animals’ protection and survival as a species.
“The declaration today is out of step with the international community, let alone the protection needed to safeguard the future of our oceans and these majestic creatures,” Greenpeace Japan executive director Sam Annesley said in a statement, according to The Guardian. “Most whale populations have not yet recovered, including larger whales such as blue whales, fin whales and sei whales.”
Officials from other countries piled on their own criticisms. The United Kingdom’s environmental secretary Michael Gove was “extremely disappointed” in the decision and said the U.K. is “strongly opposed to commercial whaling.” (RELATED: Japan Presses For Resumption Of Commercial Whaling Despite UN Ruling)
Extremely disappointed to hear that Japan has decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial whaling. The UK is strongly opposed to commercial whaling and will continue to fight for the protection and welfare of these majestic mammals.
— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) December 26, 2018
Australian Sen. Richard Di Natale, leader of the Australian Greens party, referred to whaling a “barbaric slaughter.”
It’s deeply disappointing to read reports this morning that Japan will resume commercial whaling activities.
The Australian Greens call on the Federal Government to take a united stand with the majority of Australians who oppose this barbaric slaughter. #auspol
— Richard Di Natale (@RichardDiNatale) December 26, 2018
Japan opposed the ban on commercial whaling when the IWC first proposed it, but eventually conceded to international pressure. The government continued to allow whaling for research purposes, a move many criticized as a work-around to the ban.
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