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The Yomiuri ShimbunWith the aim of resuming commercial whale hunting, Japan is likely to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, it was learned Thursday.

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 Kyodo News, the country is unlikely to catch whales in the Antarctic Ocean even if it did withdraw from the IWC, as it is eyeing commercial whaling only in seas near Japan and its exclusive economic zone.

Ruling party members, many of whom support resuming commercial whaling as part of Japan's traditional food culture, said it's not helpful to stay in the IWC.

In 2014, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to halt its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean after concluding that they were not, as Japanese officials had claimed, conducted for scientific research.

Liz Slooten, a representative of the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust, agreed in a separate telephone interview that Japan's potential pullout could have serious consequences for the IWC.

To leave the IWC next year, Japan needs to notify the commission by January 1.

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

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Japan has long towed the line with the IWC, which was established in 1948.

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Agence France-Presse quoted an official as saying the agency was "considering all options", including the possible withdrawal from the 89-member commission. This was finally the original task of the whaling Commission, argued Moronuki: the conservation of Whales and the sustainable use of the Walressourcen.

Japan has previously threatened to quit the IWC, arguing that the moratorium was supposed to be a temporary measure and accusing the IWC of abandoning its original goal - managing the sustainable use of global whale stocks.

At an IWC general meeting held in September in Brazil, Japan proposed commercial whaling be partially resumed.

Iceland, along with Norway, openly defies the IWC's 1986 ban on commercial whale hunting. It is this exception that allows Japan's whaling fleet to embark on its yearly hunt in the icy waters of Antarctica.

The country has not yet formalized the withdrawal, however, and a government official told The Guardian that the Kyodo report is incorrect.


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