In whale-motif jacket, shirt and tie plus a whale-shaped hat, Hideki Tokoro shows off Japan's new whaling "mother ship," the Kangei Maru — slicing blades, butchery deck, freezers and all.

"(Whales) eat up marine creatures that should feed other fish. They also compete against humans," said Tokoro, the president of whaling firm Kyodo Senpaku, touting an industry argument long rejected by conservationists.

"So we need to cull some whales and keep the balance of the ecosystem. ... It's our job, our mission, to protect the rich ocean for the future," he added while speaking with reporters invited to tour the Kangei Maru after it had docked in Tokyo.