The Japanese government has decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission in a bid to resume commercial whaling. It cites the recovery of some whale species as a reason.
The government conveyed its decision on Thursday to lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Some ruling coalition lawmakers have been saying that Japan would not be able to resume commercial whaling as long as it remains a member of the IWC.
In 1982, the IWC introduced a moratorium on all commercial whaling. Japan suspended catching whales for commercial purposes in 1988. It then began research whaling to study whale resources.
In recent years, Japan has been proposing a resumption of commercial whaling, claiming that the numbers of some species are recovering. But these attempts were blocked by anti-whaling nations.
The government is believed to be making preparations for commercial whaling to be restarted in Japan's nearby waters and exclusive economic zones.
Anti-whaling nations are expected to react sharply, which could strain Japan's international ties.
LDP lawmakers say that to avoid such a development, they are considering sending some lawmakers to the relevant countries to seek their understanding.
Two countries have withdrawn from the international commission. Canada left the commission in 1982. Iceland rejoined in 2003 after it pulled out in 1992.