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Japanese schoolchildren watch whalers slice up a whale

Unabashed by the recent the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling ordering Japan to halt its so-called ‘scientific whaling’ programme in Antarctic waters, Japanese whalers last week invited dozens of schoolchildren in the town of Wada (100km south of Tokyo) to watch the grisly spectacle of them cutting up a 30-foot Baird’s beaked whale caught and killed in Japanese coastal waters. The children were later served up a meal of fried whale meat.

This year’s coastal whaling season began on June 20th and the Gaibo Whaling Company has already caught 6 Baird’s beaked whales and hopes to catch a further 24, before the season ends in August.

Japan has already announced that it will revise its Antarctic programme in the hope of satisfying the demands of the ICJ and also declares that its coastal whaling is an ancient tradition in Japan, accusing western critics of cultural imperialism in their attempts to stop the hunts.

In May, the Japanese Fisheries Ministry released a photo of minister Yoshimasa Hayashi eating a bowl of whale meat, in the hope of encouraging other Japanese people to do the same. However, despite government efforts to promote whale meat to school children and young people, the amount of whale meat consumed in Japan has fallen steadily in recent years, leading to large stockpiles.