Japan puts whale meat on school menus

Sept. 5, 2010 at 3:45 PM

TOKYO, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Japan, whose stocks of whale meat have risen to about 4,000 tons, is trying to increase consumption by putting it on school lunch menus, officials say.

The ironically named Institute of Cetacean Research, which conducts the government's whaling, provided whale meat to local municipalities for school lunches in 2009 at one-third the market price, which was $11 a pound, the Kyodo News service reported Sunday.

In 1962, Japanese whalers supplied about 220,000 tons of whale meat. That figure dropped off sharply to about 1,000 tons in the 1990's after an international moratorium on commercial whaling.

Whale meat, which often appeared in school lunches in the 1970s, disappeared from menus, the newspaper said.

Japan allegedly stopped commercial whaling in 1987, but continues its annual culling of whales under the guise of scientific research. The meat is marketed as a "byproduct" of whaling with the proceeds used to cover the government's expenses.

Countries and organizations opposing whaling have rapped Japan's slaughter of whales, saying what the country claims as research is a disguised form of commercial whaling.

"It is obvious that (Japan) continues whaling despite there being little demand," said Jun Hoshikawa, executive director of Greenpeace Japan.

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