Japan readies for whale killing season

Japan is known for its whaling industry. Japanese whalers kill thousands of whales, including endangered species. Yet, the Japanese government is still convinced that the whale hunt is necessary.

Japan sells whale meat for food, and the Japanese government is determined to kill a lot more whales than it does now. 

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) rejected Japan's proposal to kill 4,000 whales in the Antarctic over the next 12 years. However, the IWC is powerless in stopping Japan from hunting whales. 

A panel convened by the Commission found that Japan did not provide enough evidence for its claim that the hunt was for scientific purposes, one of the few legal exceptions to a worldwide ban on commercial whaling issued in 1986.

Also read: Whaling: Iceland, Japan's bedboy

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Despite opposition from the IWC, countries are free to issue themselves permits for scientific whaling, and are not obligated to modify their research based on IWC recommendations. 

Japan exploited that loophole since 1987. But in 2010, and again in 2012, the governments of Australia and New Zealand filed cases with the International Court of Justice, arguing that Japan's justifications for whaling in international waters were invalid and violated the 1986 ban.

Japan has killed approximately 14,000 whales since the moratorium started in 1986, Clapham said.

Japan estimates that about 50 females between the age of four and 13 would need to be killed annually. But because it's impossible to tell the sex of a whale before it's harpooned, it estimates the total number of whales killed at 333 per year, including males and females of the wrong age.

According to Japanese officials, the country needs to kill whales to control their populations. Killing whales is important for reducing competition with human fisheries, Japanese officials said. 

Killing whales was the only way to study their biology during the 1940s, when the IWC was formed. Presently, scientists can use state-of-the-art technology to monitor whole populations.

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