Japan will never stop hunting whales, a Japanese government minister said after recent clashes on Australian Antarctic waters between Sea Shepherd environmental activist group and Japanese whaling fleet.
“I do not think there will be any kind of an end for whaling by Japan,” Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries said.
The minister, who is also secretary-general of a pro-whaling group in the governing Liberal Democratic Party, motivated his answer by saying that Japan has “a long tradition and culture of whaling.” He also pointed out other countries’ eating habits that may not have universal approval, according to the international press.
“In some countries they eat dogs, like Korea. In Australia they eat kangaroos,” he said. “We do not eat those animals, but we do not stop them from doing that because we understand that is their culture.”
Whale hunting is legal in Japan due to a loophole that allows killing whales for scientific research. Whale meat is commonly available for eating in Japan.
Environmental groups such as Sea Shepherd are trying to interfere with the Japanese hunters’ activity, an approach that has resulted in collisions of ships, the detaining of activists and smoke bombs fired back and forth between the groups.