Bucking fierce Japanese opposition, the United States, Britain, and other Western nonwhaling nations launched a new drive to ban worldwide commercial killing of sperm whales. The US delegation at the opening session of the International Whaling Commission warned it would take strong measures against countries defying the commission's decisions.
But Japan, the last nation to carry on large-scale commercial whaling, warned it would ignore any total ban on killing sperm whales, pull out of the commission, and carry on unrestricted whaling - a threat that appeared likely to discourage a complete ban. ''We cannot accept a prohibition on the use of a resource within our 200-mile zone,'' Japan said.
Last July the 36-nation commission overrode Japanese objections and outlawed killing of sperm whales in the Southern Hemisphere and the North Atlantic. But Japan balked at a ban on the killings in the western part of the North Pacific. Sperm whale killing in these areas is now limited to an eight-month season.