Today, Japan has begun hunting whales after refraining from the cruel practice for more than 30 years. The country broke with international policy established in 1982 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume the hunting and killing of whales for food, despite an almost 99-percent decrease in consumer demand for whale meat from 1862 to 2017. A group of more than 100 animal-rights and environmental groups, alongside celebrities such as Ricky Gervais, Jane Goodall, and Liz Bonnin sent an open letter about Japan’s choice to break with the IWC to the 20 countries involved in last weekend’s G20 Summit which was hosted by Japan in Osaka. “The fight to protect whales gave birth to the modern environment movement 50 years ago. Yet during a year where Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thurnberg, and school children worldwide are challenging our leaders to tackle environmental decline, Japan is sending its whaling ships back to sea, within days of hosting the G20 Summit,” Dominic Dyer, Senior Policy Advisor of animal-rights group Born Free Foundation, said. “There is no justification for whaling on scientific or economic grounds. World leaders should call on Japan to halt its commercial whaling plans and return to supporting global efforts to protect whales and their ocean habitats. If we fail to protect whales, the future for mankind and our planet will be very bleak indeed.” Kitty Block, President of the Humane Society International, said Japan’s new whaling program stands in stark contrast to its involvement in the G20 Summit—which is aimed to facilitate international cooperation. “Japan leaving the IWC and defying international law to pursue its commercial whaling ambitions is renegade, retrograde, and myopic, it is undermining its international reputation for an industry whose days are so clearly numbered, to produce a product for which demand has plummeted,” Block said. “The IWC is maintaining its ban on commercial whaling for very good reasons and world leaders meeting in Japan this week should not turn a blind eye to the cruel assault planned on whales of the North Pacific.” Japan’s Fisheries Agency authorized the slaughter of 383 whales annually under its new hunting program.
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