Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The fate of whales is discussed by stakeholders around the world every four years at meetings of the International Whaling Commission, which Japan is reportedly planning to leave by the end of the year as it prepares to resume commercial whaling. (Photo: Cyrille Humbert/Flickr/cc)

Taking Path of a 'Pirate Whaling Nation,' Japan Reportedly Set to Resume Commercial Whale-Hunting in Its Waters

"This is a grave mistake which is out of step with the rest of the world."

Julia Conley

Greenpeace joined a number of Australian wildlife conservation groups in condemning a reported Japanese plan to openly flout three decades of international law banning commercial whaling, saying the country's expected decision to withdraw from a global commission on the issue and allow the killing of whales in its waters for profit would put it "out of step with the rest of the world."
Kyodo News Agency originally reported Thursday that Japan is planning to announce its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) by the end of the year, resuming commercial whaling in its coastal waters.
Under the plan, Japan would end its regular so-called "research" whaling trips to the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica that already enable it to sell whale meat. Last year alone, Japan killed 122 pregnant whales and 53 juvenile females. Such killings have violated international law, the International Court of Justice (IJC) said in 2014, and showed that the purpose of Japan's trips south were not truly for scientific research.

"Japan has failed to bully the IWC into permitting a return to the cruel and outdated industrial whaling of the past. So now Japan is reportedly threatening to turn their back on international efforts to control whaling and conserve whales." —Darren Kindleysides, Australian Marine Conservation Society

"We would like to wholeheartedly celebrate an end to Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean, but if Japan leaves the International Whaling Commission and continues killing whales in the north Pacific it will be operating completely outside the bounds of international law," said Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns at Australia's Humane Society International, in a statement. "This is the path of a pirate whaling nation, with a troubling disregard for international rule."
Japan has denied that it plans to leave the IWC but a fisheries official acknowledged to the Guardian that the country wants "to resume commercial whaling as soon as possible."
Japan's reported plan comes three months after it attempted to secure enough votes at the IWC's annual meeting to lift the commercial whaling ban, which was put in place in 1986. Norway and Iceland already operate commercial whaling industries, disobeying the ban.

"Japan has failed to bully the IWC into permitting a return to the cruel and outdated industrial whaling of the past," said Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society. "So now Japan is reportedly threatening to turn their back on international efforts to control whaling and conserve whales."

Kindleysides agreed that Japan's anticipated withdrawal from the IWC was the action of a rogue nation and warned the move could harm international cooperation in other areas as well.
"Leaving the IWC would set a very dangerous precedent for other international treaties and conventions," Kindleysides said. "Not satisfied with harpooning whales, it now looks like Japan is threatening to harpoon the future of the IWC. The IWC has become the driving force for global whale conservation efforts in the 21st century. If Japan is serious about the future of the world's whales, they would not leave the IWC."

"This is a grave mistake which is out of step with the rest of the world," said Sam Annesley, executive director of Greenpeace Japan. "This snub to multilateralism is unacceptable and deeply concerning but let us not forget that the Japanese fleet has continued its operations in violation of the findings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in past years.

"Ultimately, the protection of the world's oceans and marine life needs global cooperation," Annesley added. "We hope that Japan will reverse its decision and take its place beside the nations trying to undo the damage human activities have done to whale populations."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·

Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·

Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo