TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japan will lobby a dozen members of the International Whaling Commission at a meeting Monday to support its much-criticized Antarctic whaling program -- just three days before all members of the commission meet in London to discuss reaching an agreement on whale conservation rules.
Japan's annual hunt kills up to 1,000 whales a year.
Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the nation's fisheries agency will make their case to officials from Angola, Eritrea, Congo, Guinea, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Palau, Micronesia, Cambodia, Laos and Vanuatu, a government spokesperson said. Several of the countries are new to the 78-member whaling commission.
Two months ago, Japan "temporarily halted" its plan for a humpback whale hunt in the seas near Antarctica as what it said was a gesture to enhance the dialogue at the International Whaling Commission, which remains torn over whaling.
Japan, which says it is conducting the hunt as part of scientific research, believes the practice is environmentally and scientifically sound. The country's annual hunt kills up to 1,000 whales a year -- the fisheries agency insists it wants "sustainable whaling."
However, many in the international community -- particularly Australia -- believe that such hunts amount to needless slaughter. Critics believe that calling it research is just a pretext for retrieving whale meat to be sold in markets and restaurants.
Greenpeace spokesman Junichi Sato told CNN that Monday's meeting is nothing more than Japan "wining and dining its way to win votes."
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