After decades of whaling under an exemption for scientific research, Japan withdrew from the International Whaling Commission last month, formally resuming commercial whaling. What effects will this have on the commission, and the international ban on commercial whaling in general? While the ban has been weakened over the past decades, the recent withdrawal does not necessarily sound the death knell. Rather, it could also mean the end of decades of deadlock in the commission. More broadly, the Japanese exit raises questions of dealing with international challenges through inclusive institutions and commissions – Should inclusivity be pursued at any cost, or can it be productive to proceed on different tracks?