Japan will resume commercial whaling in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone beginning in July, according to a statement issued on December 26.
The unilateral move accompanies Tokyo’s decision to withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which came on the heels of Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announcing that it would stop whaling in the Antarctic, a decision welcomed by Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Winston Peters and his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne, both condemned Japan’s decision to restart the process of whaling activities, even though they will be carried out in areas that remain Tokyo’s sovereign domain.
While whaling is a signature campaign topic for Japan’s conservative government, the Japanese are shunning whale meat as consumers. Successive Japanese governments insist that eating whale is a tradition and has been willing to take on international reaction.
Japan rarely takes unilateral diplomatic action, but the country is not alone in opposing the international ban on whaling. Norway and Iceland also consider whaling a tradition and continue to hunt the mammal in their territorial waters.
In 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan should halt its Antarctic whaling. Tokyo did halt its activities for a certain period but later resumed their activities in 2015.