The decision, which will be officially announced as early as next week, comes after decades of confrontation between pro- and anti-whaling members of the IWC.
After a tense September vote in Brazil, the IWC rejected Japan's bid to return to commercial whaling, prompting vice-minister for fisheries Masaaki Taniai to say Tokyo would be "pressed to undertake a fundamental reassessment of its position as a member of the IWC".
The country has not yet formalized the withdrawal, however, and a government official told The Guardian that the Kyodo report is incorrect. A foreign ministry official confirmed "all options are on the table but nothing formal has been decided yet".
Japan joined the IWC in 1951.
1994 - Japan launches research whaling in the Northwest Pacific. But these attempts were blocked by anti-whaling nations. This was finally the original task of the whaling Commission, argued Moronuki: the conservation of Whales and the sustainable use of the Walressourcen.
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The following is a chronology of events related to Japan's whaling. "If Japan is serious about the future of the world's whales, they would not leave the IWC".
But the IWC has continued to invoke the moratorium.
Japanese officials have said the whaling organization is supposed to pursue sustainability but has become an anti-whaling body.
Anti-whaling nations are expected to react sharply, which could strain Japan's worldwide ties. Whale meat now sold in Japan is obtained as a "by-product" of whaling research in the Antarctic Ocean and the Northwest Pacific, except for imports from Iceland and elsewhere.
Slooten described the IWC, in its current form, as a "halfway house" that manages whaling and whale conservation, but is dominated by a "very narrow-minded approach to how to interact with whales". Of the 333 minke whales caught during the four-month expedition, 181 were female - including 53 juveniles.
While Japan halted commercial whaling in line with a moratorium adopted in 1982 by the IWC, it has hunted whales since 1987 for what it calls "scientific research" purposes. After a year's pause, Japan began what it said was a scaled-back whaling program.
Iceland, along with Norway, openly defies the IWC's 1986 ban on commercial whale hunting.