Exit Japan, exit International Whaling Commission?

In Nikolas Sellheim and Joji Morishita (eds), Japan's Withdrawal from International Whaling Regulation. Routledge, 2024, pp. 27-42.

For centuries, whaling has been an important industry and a classic example of the tragedy of the commons. To rectify this development, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established. However, the IWC initially failed, and depletion continued. Over time, the IWC changed fundamentally into a protectionist body. Paradoxically, when whaling was a sizeable industry, the IWC was exceedingly weak. However today, hundreds of participants meet while whaling as an industry has vanished. This begs the question whether the IWC in its present form has any relevance. This question is becoming even more relevant in light of Japan’s exit from the IWC because Japan has been the most import contracting government of the IWC regarding key dimensions of the organization’s work. The history of whaling as well as the history of the IWC is well known, so we see no need to repeat in detail what has happened. Therefore, this chapter is rather brief and relies heavily on a detailed statistical overview of the IWC’s development. It is split into four parts. First, a brief description of our novel datasets. Second, an account of the overall development of the IWC is given. The third part deals primarily with the key role played by Japan, while the fourth part is a brief concluding discussion of the future of the IWC.



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