Japanese whaling towns Wednesday welcomed the government's decision to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, but some local residents voiced concern that it may lead to an escalation in protests.

"It is a major decision that will protect domestic fishermen who live on whaling," said Kazutaka Sangen, the mayor of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, about the decision. "We very much appreciate it."

The small town has frequently faced demonstrations by anti-whaling groups after gaining international recognition in the Oscar-winning 2009 U.S. conservationist documentary film "The Cove," which was critical of the local fishing industry for capturing and killing dolphins in drive hunts.