Tokyo is about to add fin whales to the list of whales it allows its fishermen to hunt. The decision confirms the determination to promote the practice despite criticism and the Japanese public’s low appetite for whale meat.

With ulterior political motives and despite criticism, Japan will add fin whales to the list of whales that can be hunted commercially. The announcement was made on Thursday, May 9, by government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi, who spoke of “an important food resource. We believe it should be exploited sustainably, like all other marine resources, on a scientific basis. It is also important to perpetuate Japan’s traditional food culture.”

The government has adopted a proposal from the Fisheries Agency and is expected to approve the new guidelines in mid-June. The agency has proposed adding fin whales to the list of cetaceans – Minke, Bryde’s and Sei whales – that can be hunted by Japanese whalers. It is based on studies confirming sufficient numbers of fin whales in the North Pacific.

The initiative prompted a reaction from the director of international relations at the NGO Ocean Care, Nicolas Entrup, who condemned “the aggressive development of a useless and cruel activity that meets no pressing human need.” The fin whale is the second largest living mammal. It is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Japan remains committed to whaling, even though the Japanese hardly consume whale meat anymore. In the years of malnutrition following the Second World War, it was an affordable source of protein, abundantly served in school restaurants. Peak consumption reached 233,000 metric tons in 1962.


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