Jun 9 12:33 PM

Japan PM advocates for more research … more tasty, tasty research

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he wants Japan to resume its commercial whale hunt in the Antarctic for … you know … research.

"I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research," Abe said.

The announcement came the same day as the release of this photo:

Yoshimasa Hayashi
Japanese Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, left, accompanied by Japanese lawmakers, eats whale meat at his ministry in Tokyo on June 9, 2014.
Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP / Getty Images

That’s Japan’s Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi sampling some of his country’s scientific output.

In March, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled overwhelmingly that Japanese whaling did not qualify as scientific research. Japan stopped its whaling in the Antarctic after the ruling, but continued to hunt minke whales off Japan’s northern coast.

Insensitive, you say? Barbaric, even? Well, it is you that’s insensitive, says Abe: “[It is] regrettable that this part of Japanese culture is not understood.”

The attack — on Japan, that is — represents “a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture,” says Minister Hayashi, who was once head of a pro-whaling trade group.

It is a little hard to figure out at this point what that culture is, however. Is it the scientific research (allowed in limited amounts under a loophole in the international agreement halting most whaling)? Is it the industry that could flourish around commercial whaling (which is pretty expressly banned under international treaty to which Japan is a signatory)? Is it the thrill of the hunt? Or is it just the bold, fresh flavors of freshly killed sea mammal?

Japan is not the only country in the world that continues to hunt whales (Iceland and Norway, I’m looking at you), but those other countries did not sign the international moratorium on whaling in 1986.

Japan did.

Abe did not say how he plans to get around the ICJ ruling.

Probably because his mouth was full.

Of whale.

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