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Japan confirmed Wednesday that it will resume commercial whaling next year and quit the International Whaling Commission. It reverses decades of policy. The commission issued an international suspension of commercial hunting in 1986. But Japan has since been whale hunting in the name of scientific research, with most of the meat also ending up on store shelves.
The decision to restart commercial whaling has sparked international criticism. Australia saying it's extremely disappointed at the announcement, and New Zealand calling the killing of the ocean mammals, outdated and unnecessary. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says the withdrawal will come into effect at the end of June 2019, and the commercial whaling will be confined to Japanese waters and its economic zone in accordance with international law.
The move comes just months after the commission once again refused to allow Japan to hunt whales commercially. Influential lawmakers in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's party have long lobbied for resumption of commercial whaling, and the PM's own district includes a whaling port in western Japan. Tokyo maintains most whale species are not endangered, and eating whale meat is part of its culture.