Japan's determined bid to return to commercial whale hunting was blocked by anti-whaling nations in a tense vote Friday at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Brazil.
Anti-whaling nations led by Australia, the European Union and the United States, defeated Japan's "Way Forward" proposal in a 41 to 27 vote.
Japan's vice-minister for fisheries Masaaki Taniai said he regretted the vote's outcome, and threatened to leave the 89-member organization if progress could not be made towards a return to commercial whaling.
"If scientific evidence and diversity is not respected, if commercial whaling is completely denied ... Japan will be pressed to undertake a fundamental reassessment of its position as a member of the IWC," he said.
Japan had sought consensus but had been forced to push the proposal to a vote "to demonstrate the resounding voices of support" for a return to sustainable whaling for profit.
Vice minister Taniai said Japan regretted the result of the vote "which we all know can be seen as equivalent to the denial of the possibility for governments with different views to coexist with mutual understanding and respect withing the IWC."
Australia's commissioner Nick Gales rejected "the narrative of underlying dysfunction and intolerance" suggested by Japan.
He urged Tokyo to remain in the organization "to continue to argue for its view and work constructively with all members".