On Monday morning, after a brief ceremony to pray for abundant fishing and safety at sea, five ships will sail out of a port in northern Japan to hunt whales for the first time in over 30 years years.
They will not travel to the Southern Ocean, the controversial hunting ground for Japan's "scientific" whaling program since the late 1
The decision to abandon the ship fell after the IWC, which is responsible for protecting the global whale population, had rejected its proposal to resume commercial hunting for species whose stocks have recovered, according to Japanese officials.
The Ships The early departure from Kushiro on the northern island of Hokkaido to kill the whales of Minke, Sei and Bryde was condemned when Japan and its Whaling Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepared to launch the G20 leaders in Os to take aka.
In a letter released on Friday, conservation groups and celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais called on G-20 leaders to "intervene" at the summit and publicly condemn commercial whaling.
"It has required the united efforts of every nation on earth to bring the whale protection to the forefront," said naturalist and television presenter Steve Backshall. "At the G20 summit, our leaders must talk to our friends in Japan and let them know that they are in deepest conflict with the rest of the world in this matter."
Japan's government will not divulge the hunt quota until after the G20, supposedly to avoid a backlash during their two days in the diplomatic spotlight.
Kitty Block, president of Humane Society International, said: "Japan is leaving the IWC and is opposing international law to pursue its commercial whaling ambitions backsliding, retrograde and short-sighted, undermining its international reputation for industry whose days are so clearly counted to produce a product for which demand has fallen.
"The IWC is sticking to its ban on commercial whaling for very good reasons, and the world leaders meeting in Japan this week should not keep an eye out for the cruel attack on whales in the North Pacific. "
But in Ayukawa, a remote village on the Pacific coast, whose connection w whale hunting dates back to the early 20th century. Local officials and fishermen believe that the resumption of commercial whaling will revive the local economy.
"People here have long been hunting whales, so we thought that this is only natural for Japan to leave the IWC and start commercial hunting again," said Masaaki Sato, a fisherman who was already a teenager started exploring whaling expeditions 20 years ago.
A ship and several fishermen from Ayukawa will join the fleet to leave the fleet Monday morning, one day after Japan's exit from the IWC.
Shinetsu Oikawa, a local official, believes that the resumption of commercial whaling will bring tourists to Ayukawa, which was severely damaged in the March 2011 tsunami and killed nearly 19,000 people in northeastern Japan.
"Ayukawa is remote, road access is poor and there is no industry space, so whaling is the best way for the city to get the most out of its natural resources," Oikawa said. "Now we want tourists to come and eat whale meat, spend money, and help us truly recover from the disaster."
In September, a large tourist center with restaurants offering whale meat is opened in the village. "This is an opportunity for the region to finally move forward," added Oikawa, who misses the local delicacy – cooked by-products, seasoned with ginger-soy sauce. "It's been 10 years since I last had one."
Shinji Sato, who has run an Izakaya restaurant in nearby Ishinomaki for 35 years, converted to whale meat relatively late. "I ate it for the first time when I was about 20 years old and honestly I did not like it very much," said the 65-year-old.
"But as I got older and my taste changed and I loved the texture," added Sato, whose restaurant serves deep-fried whale meat as sashimi and gyoza dumplings. "Eating whale meat is part of being Japanese and allows people in the region to get in touch with their past. I do not understand why anyone should object. "
But if Sato regularly eats whale meat, he goes against the culinary grain, and domestic consumption has dropped from 200,000 tons in the 1960s, when it was an important protein source, to less than 5,000 tons in recent years.
"In the last 30 years, all kinds of food have come to Japan, so many things to eat," said Kazuo Yamamura, president of the Japan Whaling Association, to Reuters, "It's no longer a situation in which You can make a lot of money producing a lot of whale meat. "
Some observers have pointed out that coastal expeditions will be much smaller than previous research hunts and would save hundreds of whales that Japan once captured in more remote waters could also be cheaper as the fleet does not have to travel to the Antarctic.
Japan used a clause in the IWC moratorium n 1986, however, in order to hunt a certain number of whales in the Antarctic on behalf of scientific research, grew frustrated with the repeated failure to reform the IWC to facilitate the return to commercial whaling.
Patrick Ramage, Director of Marine Conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said the "amazing" decision to leave the IWC was a "face-preserving" admission that Japan's research expeditions had achieved nothing of scientific value, but instead caused diplomatic friction with Anti -Walfang nations like Australia.
"Given this astonishing development and the recent concerns of the coastal whales about the dwindling market for their product, it seems that it marks the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling," said Ramage.
"Only the Confederate bureaucrat of the Fisheries Agency would suggest that it is still possible to revive consumer demand and usher in a glorious new era of commercial whaling on the coast and domestic demand for whale meat. "