Australia, NZ groups criticize Japan's plans to withdraw from IWC

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Japan intends to resume commercial whaling for the first time in 30 years, according to the Kyodo News.

Most recently, its proposal to ease the IWC's decision-making rules was also voted down in an annual meeting in September, and Tokyo issued a veiled warning of a potential pullout.

Japan will tell the IWC of its decision by the end of the year, Kyodo news agency said, months after the body rejected its latest bid to resume commercial whaling.

According to The Guardian, a Japan fisheries official has denied the report but insisted no decision has been made on whether or not the country will withdraw from IWC.

Japan has switched to what it calls research whaling, and says stocks have recovered enough that commercial hunts should resume. "But reports that we will leave the IWC are incorrect".

Australian Environment Minister Melissa Price said her government is aware of Japan's plans to withdraw from the IWC but would "strongly prefer" that it remains a member.

Japan's whaling practices remain a deep point of contention in the otherwise strong relationship between Australia and Japan. Supposedly they wanted to waters, however, only in the own coast, as well as in Japan's economic zone, to go on whaling.

1982 - The IWC adopts a moratorium on commercial whaling.

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The professor of zoology at the University of Otago said Japan's move may trigger other pro-whaling nations like Norway and Denmark to also withdraw.

Japan can not continue its research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean if it pulls out of the IWC.

The IWC was established in 1946 to conserve and manage the world's whale and cetacean population.

It is extremely rare for Japan to withdraw from an global organisation and the withdrawal could spark criticism from anti-whaling countries.

Japan has hunted whales in the Southern Ocean since 1987 for what it calls "scientific research" purposes, but this has been criticized internationally as a cover for commercial purposes.

1988 - Japan halts commercial whaling.

In the past, Japan attempted to get permission to commercially hunt just those whales that have greater numbers in the wild, such as the common minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), which is listed as an animal of "least concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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