Japan has fired a harpoon at the rules-based global order. In an announcement slipped out while its friends and allies in the West were celebrating Christmas, the Shinzo Abe government said it is quitting the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Japan will resume commercial whaling this year, joining Norway and Iceland in defying the global norms designed to safeguard stocks of the extraordinary ocean mammal.
The decision has provoked expected protests from the conservation groups and governments whose efforts during the second half of the 20th century halted what had seemed an inexorable hunt to extinction. But in the era of US President Donald Trump's America First foreign policy, of rising nationalism across the world, of trade wars and of advancing authoritarianism, Mr Abe doubtless hopes the water will soon close over his snub to one of the many multilateral organisations supporting the liberal international order.