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Japan proposes end to commercial whaling ban, faces pushback

FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil — Japan is proposing an end to a decades-old ban on commercial whaling, arguing there is no longer a scientific reason for what was supposed to be a temporary measure.

The proposal is facing stiff opposition from Australia and others at the International Whaling Commission meetings that opened Monday in Florianopolis, Brazil.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries as a source of protein. The country said it complies with the commission’s commercial ban but hunts whales under a research exception. Critics say the program is a cover for commercial whaling because the whale meat is sold for food.

Japan is proposing to create a committee that would establish quotas for commercial whaling. It’s not clear when voting will take place. The Japanese could also pull back the proposal.