Agriculture, Fisheries and Forest

December 26, 2018

1. Japan decided, towards commercial whaling to be resumed in July 2019 after a 30-year absence, to withdraw from the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), in line with Japan’s basic policy of promoting sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence.

2. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has a dual mandate under the ICRW, that is, conservation of whale stocks and orderly development of the whaling industry. Accordingly, ever since the so-called moratorium on commercial whaling was introduced, aiming at realizing sustainable commercial whaling, Japan has sincerely engaged in the dialogues in the IWC for over 30 years on the basis of scientific data collected, while actively taking part in the efforts seeking for acceptable solutions to all Member States.

3. Nevertheless, although scientific evidence has confirmed that certain whale species/stocks of whales are abundant, those Member States that focus exclusively on the protection of whales, while ignoring the other stated objective of the ICRW, refused to agree to take any tangible steps towards reaching a common position that would ensure the sustainable management of whale resources. As a consequence, the modification of the moratorium has not been properly considered either, despite the IWC’s legal obligation to do so “by 1990 at the latest”.

4. Furthermore, at the 67th meeting of the IWC in September 2018, orderly development of the whaling industry which is clearly mentioned in the Convention was not taken into account at all during the deliberations, and quite regrettably, it unveiled the fact that it is not possible in the IWC even to seek the coexistence of States with different views. Consequently, Japan has been led to make its decision.

5. Although Japan will withdraw from the ICRW, it remains committed to international cooperation for the proper management of marine living resources. In coordination with international organizations, such as through its engagement with the IWC as an observer, Japan will continue to contribute to the science-based sustainable management of whale resources.

6. At the same time, Japan will further enhance cooperation with countries that share the basic position to promote sustainable use of aquatic living resources to broaden international support for such position and will strive to restore the original functions of the IWC.

7. From July 2019, after the withdrawal comes into effect on June 30, Japan will conduct commercial whaling within Japan’s territorial sea and its exclusive economic zone, and will cease the take of whales in the Antarctic Ocean /the Southern Hemisphere. The whaling will be conducted in accordance with international law and within the catch limits calculated in accordance with the method adopted by the IWC to avoid negative impact on cetacean resources.

8. In its long history, Japan has used whales not only as a source of protein but also for a variety of other purposes. Engagement in whaling has been supporting local communities, and thereby developed the life and culture of using whales. Japan hopes that more countries will share the same position to promote sustainable use of aquatic living resources based on scientific evidence, which will thereby be handed down to future generations.

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