SHINGU, WAKAYAMA PREF. – A whale meat auction was held Thursday in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, the first since the country ended its 31-year commercial whaling hiatus earlier this week.
A whaling fleet left Kushiro in Hokkaido on Monday to hunt in coastal waters and took two minke whales later the same day.
Approximately 66 kilograms of meat from one of the two animals was then brought to Taiji for the auction because a vessel from the whaling town was among the fleet. Taiji claims to be the birthplace of whaling in Japan.
On Monday, a separate fleet also departed from the port of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Japan restarted commercial whaling a day after formally withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission.
The IWC was founded in 1948 and Japan joined it in 1951. It was originally composed of whaling nations, but increasing memberships of anti-whaling countries led the IWC to adopt a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982.
As an IWC member, Japan halted commercial whaling in 1988 but hunted whales for what it claims were research purposes, a practice criticized internationally as a cover for commercial whaling.
Japan had long sought to lift the moratorium and finally left the IWC on Sunday after the organization last September voted down its proposal to resume commercial whaling of species considered abundant such as minke whales.
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