TOKYO, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government planned to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume commercial hunting, media reports say.
Hideki Moronuki, an official from the Fisheries Agency of Japan, said that Japan was considering every possible option but has "not yet come up with a decision."
Kyodo news agency said a formal announcement could come next week, citing unnamed government sources.
If Japan wants to leave the commission, it has to send a notification by the end of the year, and then it would be able to leave on June 60 , 2019, which means that Japan would still be bound by certain international laws.
Japan signed the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in 1951, and commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986 after some whales were driven almost to extinction.
However, Japan kills 333 whales each year for so-called "scientific research," due to a loophole in the whaling ban, though most meat goes on sale for human consumption.
Officials in Japan even say eating whales is part of its culture, according to BBC News.
At the annual IWC meeting in September in Brazil, Japan proposed establishing a committee dedicated to "sustainable whaling", including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling.
Anti-whaling nations and conservationists locked horns with whaling pros over Japan's proposal to end the 32-year-old moratorium on commercial whale hunting, and finally the proposal was voted down.