Japan's whale restaurants cheer the hunt resumption

Japan's whale restaurants cheer the hunt resumption

However, it remains unclear whether the now sluggish market for whale meat will improve, and a backlash from anti-whaling countries is likely.

As an IWC member, Japan halted commercial whaling in 1988 but hunted whales for what it claims were research purposes, a practice criticized internationally as a cover for commercial whaling.

This week Japan has formally recommenced commercial whaling for the first time in over 30 years.

It is necessary for Japan to notify other countries about how it conducts whaling to obtain their understanding.

Japan does not belong to an global whaling organisation after withdrawing from the worldwide Whaling Commission (IWC). "It's necessary to boost demand for whale meat", said Fisheries Agency counsellor Hideki Moronuki. Japan immediately halted JARPA II, but in December 2015 commenced NEWREP-A, a revised Southern Ocean research program created to be in conformity with the court's ruling which set an annual quota of 333 minke whales.

The commercial whaling will be carried out by two groups.

Approximately 66 kg of meat from one of the two minke whales was brought to Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, for an auction because a vessel from the town was among the fleet.

Moronuki says the fate of commercial whaling depends on whether whale meat is widely accepted by consumers since it won't be getting as much subsidies as it used to get.

A 2017 survey by the Japan Whaling Association showed about 64 per cent of respondents in ages ranging from teens to 50s said they have eaten whale meat but majority said they haven't eaten once for more than five years.

Photos and footage of Japan's first catch of whales have emerged. "What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling".

Before Japan's withdrawal from International Whaling Commission, it caught 596 whales with a "scientific research" special permit in the 2017-18 whaling season, according to the commission. "It's higher quality, unlike that from research whaling, as they drained the blood aboard". It was a moment that people in the whaling industry had always been anticipating.

Japan has long said few whale species are endangered, and news in December that it was leaving the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume hunting was the culmination of years of campaigns by industry supporters and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose constituency includes a city that has long whaled.



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