Defying international condemnation, a Tokyo-backed program has recently completed its massive hunt in the Antarctic ocean, killing over 300 minke whales.
The whaling fleet composed of five Japanese ships docked back to Shimonoseki port on Friday after completing the annual slaughter which began in November, The Guardian reports.
The initiative, which has been met with a global opposition headed by Australia and New Zealand, again defied the worldwide moratorium on whale hunting imposed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986. Japan is a signatory to the agreement.
According to Japan’s Fisheries Agency, the slaughter of whales was “research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea.” However, the International Court of Justice (IJC) and environmental groups have accused the organization for killing whales for their meat.
The IJC ruled back in 2014 that the hunt was a commercial venture in the guise of a scientific one and ordered Japan to stop it. Following the order, the hunt took a one-year hiatus in 2015, before commencing again last year, yielding 333 minke whale kills.
“Each year that Japan persists with its discredited scientific whaling is another year where these wonderful animals are needlessly sacrificed,” Humane Society International executive vice president Kitty Block was quoted as saying.
“It is an obscene cruelty in the name of science that must end.”
Critics accuse Japan of exploiting a loophole which allows the killing of whales for “scientific research.” However, whale meat is widely known to be served on Japanese dinner tables and even in school lunches.
It is important to note that hunting whales for food is a centuries-old practice in Japan. Consumption of whale meat has just recently declined dramatically in the last two decades.