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Japan Continues To Eat Whale
By Wendy Heller, January 11, 2009 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Yahoo.com
Japan's whaling fleet is on its annual hunt in the Antarctic, drawing protests from environmental groups, international governments and whale-lovers worldwide. So why does Tokyo persist? Why shouldn't it, many Japanese say.

"Why do people say we can't eat the things we've eaten since the end of World War II?" asked Koji Shingu, the proprietor of a whale eatery called Yushin in Tokyo, a few blocks from the city's oldest temple, a popular tourist draw. Feelings that echo those of many older Japanese.

Whale meat is still easily found in restaurants and canned in supermarkets, but is not a part of a typical home-cooked meal.

Shingu says most of his customers are in their 40s or older, while younger diners come mainly for the novelty. At the tail end of lunch hour, his clients included several older men eating alone and a pair of younger girls at a corner table.

The Japanese fleet, now somewhere between New Zealand and Chile, catches mostly minke whales, which at about 25 feet (7.6 meters) long and 5 tons are smaller than many other species.

This year the conservationist group Sea Shepherd has chased Japan's whaling ships for thousands of miles and thrown bottles of rancid butter to disrupt operations. In late December the group's ship and a whaling boat collided at sea.

Commercial whaling is banned internationally, but the six-vessel Japanese fleet operates under permission from the International Whaling Commission, which allows hunting for research purposes. Japan plans to take up to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales this year, and says it sells most of the meat for food only after conducting its research...

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