Rupert Wingfield-Hayes “Japan and the whale” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35397749
A number of coastal communities in Japan have indeed hunted whales for centuries, and continue to do so. Taiji in Wakayama prefecture is well known, many would say infamous, for its annual dolphin hunts. There are other places, in Chiba Prefecture and in Ishinomaki in northern Japan, that also do coastal whaling.
So, yes, coastal whaling is part of Japanese culture, like Norway and Iceland and the Inuit of northern Canada. But only Japan continues to sail a fleet of ships half way across the globe to hunt whales in the Antarctic and maintains a large factory ship that can process hundreds of whales at sea.
Nothing about these Antarctic whaling expeditions is historic. Japan's first whaling voyage to the Antarctic took place in the mid-1930s but the really huge hunts didn't get going until after World War Two.
Japan lay in ruins, its population starving. With the encouragement of General Douglas MacArthur, Japan converted two huge US Navy tankers into factory ships and set sail for the Southern Ocean.
From the late 1940s to the mid-1960s whale meat was the single biggest source of meat in Japan. At its peak in 1964 Japan killed more than 24,000 whales in one year, most of them enormous fin whales and sperm whales.
Today Japan can afford to import meat from Australia and America. There is no deep-sea commercial whaling in Japan. The fleet that is now hunting in Antarctic waters is paid for by Japanese taxpayers to carry out what the Japanese government describes as "scientific research".
Junko Sakuma used to work for Greenpeace in Japan. For the last 10 years she has been researching Japan's whaling industry.
"There is no benefit to Japan from whaling...but nobody knows how to quit," she tells me at Tokyo's famously chaotic Tsukiji fish market, the biggest in the world renowned for its pre-dawn tuna auctions.
Of the thousands of fish wholesalers in Tsukiji only two still deal in whale meat.
At one stand we find a few large hunks of minke whale meat, deep red and oozing blood. At the next there are two long slabs of lighter-coloured fin whale meat, an endangered species its trading banned by CITES.
Business is bad, complains the stall owner. Last year Japan caught no whales in the Antarctic, so there is less minke whale meat available, he says.
If there is a whale meat shortage, the price should be soaring. But according to Junko it is not.
"The fact is, most Japanese people do not eat whale meat," she says. "Consumption has been falling for years," and adds that "even as the amount of whale meat decreases, the price doesn't go up".
According to Junko's research, the average consumption of whale meat by Japanese people in 2015 was just 30g (one ounce) per person.
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes氏を歌舞伎町の鯨料理屋に誘った北九州生まれのEtsuo Katoという友人の話；
「捕鯨」については、http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080118/1200626709 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20081001/1222896363 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090920/1253472136 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100205/1265339402 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100311/1268326745 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100509/1273377569 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100518/1274141582 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100606/1275795070 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100722/1279732727 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20111229/1325149058 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20151211/1449850066も参照のこと。
"When I was a child I ate this every day," he says. "Meat meant whale meat. I didn't know what beef was, or pork. Steak was whale steak, bacon meant whale bacon."
But if Japan stopped whale hunting you would be sad?
He looks at me smiling and gently shaking his head.
"I don't need whale hunting" he says. "Once you have eaten beef there is no need to eat whale meat."
The other customers in the restaurant are all middle-aged salary men. Eating a bit of whale meat is nostalgic, remembering school meals 50 years ago.