This is the apparent threat (and not the first time) from Japan as reported on CNN.com to the International Whaling Commission. Japan was reacting to fierce opposition from anti-whaling nations as it was forced to scrap [its] proposal to allow four coastal village[s] to hunt the animals.
It has called the IWC hypocrite as it allowed some whale hunting for three countries except Japan. Japan recently came up with the proposal when the 77-member IWC allowed aboriginal whaling for indigenous people in the United States, Russia and Greenland. Japan contended that whaling was a part of their culture, too (Full story).
The IWC has allowed Japan to take more than 1,000 whales per year for scientific research but it has yet to publish most of the results. Other member nations and anti-whaling organizations have alleged that most of the whales caught for these scientific research end up in supermarkets.
As a compromise, Japan said it was willing to give up its plan to hunt 50 humpback whales next year in exchange for the endorsement of their proposal to allow their indigenous whale-hunting coastal villages to hunt. However, Australia rebuked Japan for holding the creatures hostage. Greenland abandoned a plan to increase its whaling quota after considering the IWCs objection.
International forums like the IWC or the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) or any inter-governmental organizations for this matter, tend to become an arena for diplomatic showdown between countries (the more powerful, English articulate, richer–wields more favor). While these organizations have served its purpose at some point, some has also became a legitimizing factor to allow the thing it (organizations) was created for (in this case, the IWC was to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry). However, since its creation in 1946, it was only in 1970s that conservation efforts started to be felt after the number of endangered species increased.
There are a number of debates/issues surrounding the conservation of whales, from freedom of choice of protein source; some whale species are in abundance (so why not go for sustainable whaling?) to the motive of transnational NGOs among others. However, the fact remains that the list of endangered whale species, aside from other animal species, is getting longer with time in spite of the existence of these so-called commissions, organizations or agreements meant to protect whales or regulate the industry that’s close to making it extinct (and eventually the industry that these animals have created).
I just hope that these people can just sit down, compromise and focus on the most important thing, i.e, letting future generations enjoy this world as we see it now (or wanted to see it as it was three or four generations ago).