Tokyo to restart whale hunts

Japan plans to catch 333 minke whales each year until 2027. Picture: Getty

Japan plans to catch 333 minke whales each year until 2027. Picture: Getty

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JAPAN says it plans to resume whale hunts in the Antarctic later this year, despite the International Whaling Commission (IWC) saying Tokyo has not proved that the mammals need to be killed for research.

The IWC’s scientific committee said in a report that it was not able to determine whether lethal sampling is necessary for whale stock management and conservation.

In April, an IWC experts’ panel made similar comments about a revised Japanese Antarctic whaling plan submitted after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled last year that Japan’s earlier hunts were not truly scientific.

The IWC banned commercial whaling in 1986, but Japan continued killing whales under an exemption for research. After the ICJ’s ruling, Japan sent a nonlethal expedition to the Antarctic for the 2014 season.

Japanese officials said on Friday they will submit additional data to support their argument. They said Japan plans to resume whaling in the Antarctic this winter.

“We have not changed any policies and our goal,” Joji Morishita, Japan’s representative to the IWC, said. He added that Japan will respond sincerely to “scientifically backed comments” in Friday’s report, but criticised it as lacking consensus.

Reflecting the divide among its nearly 90 member nations, the IWC report laid out both sides of the argument.

Under Tokyo’s revised proposal for the upcoming whaling season, it plans to catch 333 minke whales each year between 2015 and 2027, about one-third of what it used to target.

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