We Oppose Japan’s Withdrawal from the IWC

December 28th, 2018
Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network

On December 26th 2018, the government of Japan officially announced that it will withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an organizational body for executing the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). The government stated it will cease research whaling in high seas and resume commercial whaling in coastal waters and in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from July 2019.

The government of Japan insists that the reason for the withdrawal is the dysfunction of the IWC and the mass media is reporting this viewpoint. However, Japan has other reasons to discontinue research whaling and these factors all attribute back to the government itself: cost measures for refurbishing the deteriorating whaling factory ships, declining demand for whale meat, and Japan’s violation of the Washington Treaty.

Furthermore, it cannot be forgotten that the withdrawal or scaling down of research whaling has always been offered at the center of the long, repeated negotiations at the IWC in the past, and the cessation of research whaling is what many of the member countries have been asking for. Giving up scientific whaling should have been used as a bargaining chip at these negotiations, and with such decision, we, including the coastal fishermen, could have faced the international community unashamedly. The decision to simply withdraw from the IWC is nothing but a regret.

Therefore, we:

  • welcome the cessation of research whaling in international waters,
  • ask the government to resume negotiation at the IWC, using the discontinuation of research whaling as the bargaining chip,
  • condemn the execution of whaling at the government’s own discretion, regardless of coastal or exclusive economic zones, considering whales are migratory wild animals unlimited by national borders,
  • especially denounce whaling of multiple species in the EEZ using whaling fleets,
  • demand the government to stop distributing whale meat in school lunches and local events in an attempt to expand the dwindling consumption,
  • demand the government not to appropriate subsidies for commercial whaling, especially for the whaling fleets,
  • demand the government to disclose in detail the use of ¥5.1 billion set aside for whaling in next year’s budget.