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Japan will hunt fin whales after five years of commercial whaling

Japan will add large fin whales to its list of commercial whale species, government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi said Thursday, five years after quitting an international body that regulates commercial hunting of marine mammals.

Japan resumed commercial whaling in its territorial waters and exclusive economic zones in 2019 after withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

This week, the Fisheries Agency sought public comment on a draft revision of its aquatic resources control policy, which would allow the commercial fishing of fin whales.

The government will continue to promote whaling and take necessary diplomatic steps, Hayashi said at a regular news conference.

“Whales are important food sources and should be used sustainably, based on scientific evidence,” said Hayashi, the chief cabinet minister, referring to expanding the allowable catch to include fin whales.

“It is also important to inherit traditional food cultures in Japan.”

Japan caught a total of 294 minke, Bryde’s and sei whales last year, according to the Fisheries Agency, which currently limits commercial whaling to the three relatively small species.

Whale consumption in Japan peaked in the early 1960s, but did not become widespread as other meats became more readily available.

Japan was criticized by environmental groups for launching what it called whaling for scientific research in 1987, following an IWC regulation banning commercial whaling.

Australia and New Zealand were among the countries that expressed disappointment when Japan withdrew from the IWC in 2018.



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