Japan 'to leave whaling commission to resume hunting'

Japan plans to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume commercial hunting, media reports say. The government told its MPs of the decision, NHK reports. There has been no official confirmation of the move.

Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986 after some whales were driven almost to extinction.

For many years Japan has hunted whales for what it calls "scientific research" and to sell the meat, a programme widely criticised by conservationists.

The Japanese government is expected to cite the recovery of certain whale species as justification for the move, although it's thought to be considering whaling only in its own waters.

Officials in Japan say eating whales is part of its culture.

A number of coastal communities in Japan have hunted whales for centuries, but consumption in the country surged only after World War Two when whales were the main source of meat. It has plummeted in recent decades.

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