The Japanese government has rebutted an editorial in The New York Times urging it to halt its whaling practices, saying the country is committed to the conservation of whales.

The editorial, titled “Japan: Stop Slaughtering Whales,” was published late last year after the country announced a decision to leave the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial whaling.

The country “sets strict catch limits based on scientific methodology” established by the IWC, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Takeshi Osuga said in a letter to the editor Friday that appeared on the newspaper’s online edition, countering the earlier editorial.

“This ensures the sustainability of all whale species Japan will catch for hundreds of years,” he said.

“Japan’s actions fully comply with international law,” the letter said, explaining that the country’s whaling is limited to its exclusive economic zone where it has sovereignty over the use of the maritime resources there.

Osuga also said, “There is no general international prohibition on whaling.”

“Whaling has been a part of Japanese culture for centuries,” the same as it has been in Norway, Iceland and Denmark, as well as among indigenous people in the United States and Canada, he said.

“It is unfair to single out Japan,” the letter said.

Osuga said, “It is offensive to dismiss Japan’s concern for protection of its own cultural heritage and the industry closely related to it as a ‘gambit by nationalist politicians’ motivated by ‘short-term political gain,'” as the editorial claimed.

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