Japan has officially resumed commercial whaling in its waters again after a thirty-one year hiatus

Japan announced Monday it will be immediately resuming commercial whaling after more than thirty-one years of only carrying out the practice using a loophole of international whale hunting under the banner of research. Whalers are restricted to carry out whaling within 200 miles of the coast and are restricted to only being allowed to kill 383 whales a year per ship. ~

According to the Wall Street Journal, the practice of commercial whaling was a big goal for Tokyo, which ended commercial whaling under a 1986 moratorium* set by the International Whaling Commision. Japan officials, however, argue that “the moratorium was only meant to be temporary and that whale populations were sufficient to resume hunting” (Wall Street Journal, 2019). After leaving the Commision on June 30, Tokyo had cleared the way for whalers to resume their practice freely. ~

According to the New York Times, Tokyo and its citizens have defended whale hunting for decades despite heavy criticism from the international community for the practice being “immoral or uncivilized” (Wall Street Journal. 2019). The government, local authorities, and citizens claim that the practice of whaling was a tradition with a long history and cultural significance to the Japanese, while conservationists and animal rights activists claim that these animals, who were at one point on the brink of extinction due mostly to the practice, should be protected. ~

Although the practice of Whaling has faced many challenges from the International community, its biggest challenge may lie at home. After years of banning the commercial practice under the Moratorium, the once 233,000 ton market for whale meat in 1962 has fallen to around 3,000 to 5,000 tons in recent years. Masayuki Komatsu, a former government official who oversaw Japan’s international negotiations on the subject and now works at a think tank in Tokyo, says that the economy for whaling just isn’t what it used to be and said there is “no way” the practice will succeed. ~

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