In a show of defiance against a recent court ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice, hundreds of Japanese government officials, lawmakers, and pro-whaling lobbyists attended a feast that consisted almost entirely of various whale meat delicacies. At the event, which was held on Tuesday near Japan’s parliament, the attendees all vowed to continue whale hunts despite the ruling. There was even a toast which involved everyone at the event cheering in unison, ”Whale!”
Even though Japan has already said it will cancel next season’s Antarctic expedition in light of the ruling, there are still two other expeditions, one along the country’s northern coast, and another in the northern Pacific, that could both continue as planned within the next few weeks. The average kill count for those programs is often around 300 minke whales each year.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told the meeting that hunting whales is a part of Japanese culture, and that it “has a policy of harvesting and sustainably using the protein source from the ocean, and that is unshakable.” While coastal whaling has been around since the 12th century, it’s fairly obvious that the Antarctic expeditions, which only started in the 1930s and often pull in more than 1,000 whales each year, are anything but sustainable.
The most likely scenario is that Japan will go ahead with its two other whaling programs, and although it could also try and redesign its scientific whaling program in the Antarctic, the chances of it being approved as legitimate are virtually zero. Should the other expeditions head out to sea, they are bound to meet a great deal of resistance, which would hopefully put an end to their renewed killing spree before it even begins.