Feb 11 Japan hosts a special meeting of members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) from Feb 13-15 in an attempt to help lift the whaling moratorium, but 26 anti-whaling nations have said they will boycott the meeting.
Here are some key facts on whaling in Japan:
FROM HAND-HARPOONS TO GUNS
- Hand-harpoon whaling began as early as the 12th century in Japan, the pro-whaling Japan Whaling Association says.
- Antarctic whaling was initially dominated by Britain and Norway, but by 1969, only Japan and the Soviet Union were whaling in Antarctica.
- One year after the IWC's 1982 commercial whaling moratorium came into force in 1986, Japan began its scientific whaling.
- It cites Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling as giving the right to take whales for scientific research.
- Iceland and Norway are the only countries to ignore the moratorium and conduct commercial hunts.
WHY KEEP WHALING?
- Asking Japan to abandon its whaling culture would be like asking Australians to stop eating meat pies, or the English to give up fish and chips, the pro-whaling JWA says.
- It argues that the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary, established in 1994, only bans commercial, not research, whaling.
- Critics say scientific whaling is commercial whaling in disguise. Others say whaling is more of an invented than actual tradition, and is only really supported by a vocal minority of conservative nationalists.
- The JWA says its goal is to answer key questions about whales to better manage them. It says selling whale meat obtained through scientific research is required by a rule stating that research by-products are not wasted.
- Japan's levels of public support for whaling have been a hotly contested issue in the debate. Conflicting polls have been used by various sides to bolster their arguments.
Sources: Japan Whaling Association (www.whaling.jp/english/intro.html), The International Whaling Commission (www.iwcoffice.org), The Institute of Cetacean Research (www.icrwhale.org/eng-index.htm)