Japan begins commercial whaling after 30 years

Japan has restarted commercial whaling after a three-decade break. Commercial whaling was banned in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). However, Japan withdrew from the IWC in December. Japan has promised its whalers will stay within 320 kilometers from its coast. It has set a quota for killing 227 whales every six months. This week, whalers caught two minke whales. These were taken to a northern Japanese port. The whale meat was sold in Tokyo for record prices. Eager restaurant owners bought the meat at prices of up to $140 per kilo.

Japan has engaged in whaling for centuries. A whale chef summed up why he thought commercial whaling was important. He said: "A country that does not preserve its food culture has no future." He said whale meat was healthy. He said: "It is five times lower in calories than beef, 10 times lower in cholesterol, two times less fat than chicken and it's packed with iron. But abroad, people do not know this." Japan's return to whaling has brought international outcry. The Humane Society said: "This is a sad day for whale protection globally."