Japan may suspend its contributions to the International Whaling Commission to protest the adoption of a resolution to create a whale conservation committee, a government source said Tuesday.
The IWC passed the proposal by antiwhaling nations in a 25-20 vote Monday at its annual meeting in Berlin.
Approval of the resolution, which calls for “strengthening the conservation agenda” of the IWC, drew only faint applause after a day of often bitter debate. The group has become increasingly polarized since it imposed a global ban on commercial whaling in 1986.
Japan was one of the most vocal opponents of the proposal, and its delegates on Tuesday walked out of a session to discuss methods of killing whales, saying the issue is not one that should be debated by the IWC.
Sources close to the team said Japanese negotiators are also poised to boycott other discussions on subjects that Japan opposes.
Japan contributed 18.2 million yen to the IWC last year, accounting for the greatest proportion — 8.6 percent — of the operational funds put up by members. The United States accounted for the second-largest amount with some 6.3 percent. Japan had been expected to provide 20 million yen this year.
The adoption of the resolution will hamper studies of the oceans’ ecosystems through scientific research whaling, the Japanese source said.
“Arguments by antiwhaling nations are absolutely unscientific,” he said. “Whales are destroying the ecosystem by consuming marine life.”
Monday’s vote set up a committee within the 50-nation IWC that will have the task of working with wildlife groups and bolstering efforts to protect cetaceans. It is expected to start work next year.
The so-called Berlin Initiative was backed by such nations as the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Britain and Australia — whose head delegate argued that the IWC needed to lose its image as “a broken-down whalers’ club.”
The source in Tokyo did not say Japan would withdraw from the IWC, but he said the commission, originally set up to manage whaling, has come to assume a “totally different purpose.”
Yasuo Fukuda, the government’s top spokesman, voiced discontent with the IWC resolution.
“The decision lacks validity,” Fukuda, the chief Cabinet secretary, said.
He said the resolution deviates from the IWC’s original purpose of sustainable use of whale resources as it is aimed exclusively at conservation.
Fukuda said Japan will decide whether to withdraw from the IWC after examining the results of the ongoing IWC meeting.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.