Whale On the Plate

Why Japan fights for commercial whaling in a market that doesn't exist

A little after noon one Monday in late January, a buzz of anticipation filled the cafeteria of the No. 1 Elementary School in the sleepy former whaling town of Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. Thanks to the exertions of the local fisheries association and board of education, the 21 young scholars in the room were about to get a special treat with their workaday portions of milk, rice, salad and mandarin oranges: marinated, deep-fried fillet of whale. The greasy feast was one of 704 similar lunches the board has provided to 339 schools in the prefecture since January 2005. "Reaction from parents...

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