In a landmark policy shift, Japan formally announced Wednesday that it would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and resume commercial whaling in its territorial waters next year for the first time in more than 30 years.

Japan's withdrawal will at the same time put an end to its IWC-sanctioned whaling activity in the Antarctic Ocean, long conducted under the name of "scientific research," in a practice widely slammed as commercial whaling in disguise.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan will restart commercial whaling in July next year — its first such excursion since 1988 — but limit its hunting activities to its own territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.