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Is Japan's whaling industry going under as demand sinks?

DW News -- Jul 29
Japan's whaling industry is struggling to stay afloat as government subsidies dwindle and consumers are less interested in what used to be a staple food on Japanese dinner tables.

Three years after Japan pulled out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and announced that whalers would be permitted to resume commercial hunting there, the industry is on the brink of collapse.

A sector that employed thousands of people in the decades immediately after World War II, and sustained entire communities during those difficult economic times, is today losing the government subsidies that has kept it afloat. More and more, it is also delivering a product that very few people want to buy.

The whaling industry insists that it is pushing ahead with plans to modernize operations, cut costs and encourage more people to consume whale meat, but environmental campaigners says they are just delaying the inevitable.

What is the status of Japan's whaling industry?

Three years ago, Japan had become frustrated by its inability to convince other members of the IWC that there are sufficient whales in the world's oceans to justify a return to commercial whaling.

At the same time, Japanese whalers drew international criticism for exploiting a loophole in the IWC's regulations that permitted "scientific whaling."Japan harpooned hundreds of whales across the Pacific every year on the pretext of studying their migration routes and to obtain data on whale numbers, their health and breeding patterns.

In order that the "byproduct" of this lethal research did not go to waste, the fisheries ministry was keen to emphasize that whale meat was then sold. ...continue reading

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