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Japan considers leaving IWC to resume commercial whale hunts
Japan is considering leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunts, the Fisheries Agency said on Thursday, after unsuccessfully campaigning for decades within the organisation to gain support for the cause. The agency said officials haven't made a final decision but are considering the step. Japan's request for a resumption of commercial whaling was most recently denied at the IWC meeting in September. IWC imposed a moratorium on commercial whaling in the 1980s due to dwindling stocks. Japan has since switched to what it calls research whaling, and says stocks have recovered enough that commercial hunts should resume. Japanese officials have said the whaling organisation is supposed to pursue sustainability but has become an anti-whaling body. They criticise what they call the whaling commission's lack of tolerance of diverse views on whaling and its inability to resolve the long divide between conservationists and supporters of whale use. If withdrawing, Japan has to notify IWC by January 1, according to Kyodo News. Japan has hunted whales for centuries. It has reduced its catch following international protests and declining demand for whale meat at home. Opponents say Japan's research whaling is a cover for commercial whaling because the whale meat is sold for food. The country annually consumes about 5,000 tons of whale meat from the research hunts, mainly by the older generation who feel nostalgic about the meat. Japan cut back on its catch after a 2014 international court ruling. Japan's Antarctic catch is now capped at 333 whales a year - about a third of the quota before a 2014 International Court of Justice ruling found that Japanese research whaling wasn't sufficiently scientific.