While the internet is being littered with photographs showing animals reclaiming areas of the planet as mankind is forced into lockdown by the COVID-19 pandemic, we all knew it wouldn’t be long before there was some bad news – step up, the Japanese whaling fraternity.
On Tuesday 7 April, three Japanese whaling vessels set sail from Ishinomaki for the first commercial whaling expedition in 32 years off the northeastern Sanriku coast.
While Japan defied world condemnation and resumed hunting whales for commercial purposes back in July last year – just one day after leaving the International Whaling Commission – these operations only took place off the island of Hokkaido and in some other regions. There were no expeditions in the waters near Sanriku, as the minke whales they would be targeting had already left the area in their annual migration north in search of food.
Nobuyuki Ito, who is the president of a local whaling company from the district of Ayukawa, commented: “We’re finally here. We hope to deliver fresh and delicious whale to everyone.”
Tokyo has again defended the whaling expeditions, saying the resumed commercial whaling will only take place in nearby waters and within its exclusive economic zone.