SHINGU, WAKAYAMA PREF. – The town of Taiji, known for its whale-hunting traditions, held an annual memorial service on Saturday for whales captured and killed.
Some 100 people including fishermen gathered in front of a whale-shaped monument at a park in the town and offered incense in a gesture of appreciation.
“We will not forget the feelings of gratitude toward whales and pass on the long tradition of the town’s way of life with whales to future generations,” Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen said in an address.
Taiji also has drawn attention for its annual dolphin cull, in which the animals are slaughtered using a controversial method called drive hunting in which fishermen herd dolphins into a cove and seal the area with a net. The hunting practice has drawn international criticism as cruel.
As for whaling, Japan only conducted visual surveys after the International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that its so-called research whaling program in the Antarctic violated the International Convention of the Regulation of Whaling because it wasn’t actually scientific.
But Japan has resumed whaling based on a new plan under which it set a significantly lower catch target than before.
Fishermen in Taiji, one of Japan’s major whaling bases, hunt some types of smaller whales for commercial purposes.
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