Japan will once again try to get the international ban on whale hunting overturned at the global conference of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which opened in Brazil on Monday.
The proposal presented by Japan says, “Science is clear: there are certain species of whales whose population is healthy enough to be harvested sustainably.”
While the Japanese proposal is supported by other traditional whaling countries, such as Iceland and Norway, it faces fierce opposition from countries such as Australia and Brazil, and the European Union, as well as from numerous environmental groups.
Japan, which has pushed for an amendment to the ban for years, accuses the IWC of siding with anti-whaling nations rather than trying to reach a compromise between conservationists and whalers.
Whale meat has been a a traditional part of the Japanese diet for centuries.
After the IWC adopted a ban on commercial whaling in 1982, Japan, Norway and Iceland continued to hunt whales. Tokyo justified the practice as a part of scientific research, which was allowed by the moratorium.
But in 2014, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s whaling practice had no scientific basis, but instead it was a way to keep the industry alive.
This year, Japan wants to establish a Sustainable Whaling Committee to oversee the hunting of healthy whale populations for commercial purposes.
But environmentalists say allowing even limited hunting of the mammoth mammals will only again push the species to the brink of extinction. Brazil introduced proposal Monday that says hunting whales is “no longer a necessary economic activity.”
Australia has vowed to lead the charge against reinstatement of commercial whaling and it has the strong backing of New Zealand, the European Union and the United States.
Japan’s proposal will likely be put to a vote sometime before the conference ends on Sept. 14.