US lawmakers urged Japan to limit its whale hunt and use other, non-lethal means to conduct scientific research on whales.
Democratic and Republican senators sent a letter Thursday to Japan's ambassador in Washington asking the country to "reconsider its impending hunt of approximately 1 000 whales, including fin and protected humpback whales".
"We question the necessity of conducting a hunt of this magnitude and are strongly opposed to the targeting of protected species," the letter said. The senators included Democrats Joe Biden, a presidential candidate, and Barbara Boxer, and Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.
Japan has said that opposition by anti-whaling nations will not stop it from pressing ahead with its coming hunt, which will take the endangered humpbacks for the first time in 40 years.
Japan's hunt is conducted by a government-backed research institute to collect scientific data on whale demographics that Tokyo needs to build a case for the lifting of a global commercial whaling ban.
Critics, however, say the programme is commercial whaling in disguise, because the meat is sold after collection of the data.
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