Withering criticism from the international media and hard work from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has convinced Japanese officials to agree to suspend the hunt for humpback whales during its annual whale hunt in the seas off of Antarctica.
IWC chairman Bill Hogarth maintained a dialog with his Japanese counterparts since June concerning the issue. This was the first year Japan was planning on adding 50 humpback whales in addition to the 50 fin whales and up to 935 minke whales. The moratorium on hunting humpback whales will last at least until the next meeting of the IWC in June 2008.
"We applaud Japan's decision as an act of goodwill toward the International Whaling Commission," said Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez. "Japan has listened intently to the concerns surrounding their hunt and the special significance whales have in many cultures."
"This move can be seen as a bold step forward in breaking the impasse over whaling that has burdened the IWC for many years," said Hogarth. "Japan has shown that it is serious about working to preserve the IWC."