- Unsold whale meat forced into school program
- Cooked for school lunches
- "Trying very hard to regain market for whale eating"
JAPAN'S whaling researchers dumped 10 tonnes of unsold whale meat into primary school lunches, labelling the event "traditional school lunch week".
In a desperate attempt to revive the flagging market, the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) supplied the research by-product to 254 Yokohama schools over two days last month, hoping to give their young palates a taste for whale meat.
Faced with a reported 3000 tonne inventory of unsold meat from last year's cull, the ICR contacted the Yokohama City Education committee, suggesting the department include research meat in their school lunches.
A total of 200,000 lunches of whale meat salad marinated in sesame sauce were served on January 21 and 22. Yokohama children have not eaten whale meat as part of school lunches in 26 years.
The ICR refused to comment on its controversial programs.
Following the delivery of a 131,267 name petition to the Democratic Party of Japan on Thursday, ICR spokesman Gabriel Gomez refused to take calls yesterday, accusing The Daily Telegraph of "activism".
The ICR shares an office with the private whaling company Kyodo Senpaku, who contract staff for the research fleet and manage the sale of the meat in Tokyo's Toyomi Bay area. The cold storage facility housing the inventory of unsold meat is also located nearby.
Manager of health education at the Yokohama City Education Committee, Ms Atsukjo Ito, who co-ordinated the lunch days, would not say whether the schools bought the meat, but said there were no plans for a second program.
Proving once again that the scientific program is a facade for commercial scale hunting, leading Liberal Democratic Party Upper House member Yoshimasa Hayashi, who chairs Japan's International Whaling Commission committee, yesterday admitted there was a deliberate attempt to revive the domestic market for the meat.
He said he saw no problem with feeding the meat to children as part of a public relations campaign.
"We are trying very hard to regain a market for whale eating," Mr Hayashi said.
But, in a surprise concession, Mr Hayashi said Japan would seriously consider ending whaling operations in the high seas if they were allowed to extend its coastal whaling program.
"There is a chance of an agreement. It will depend largely on US leadership to bridge the differences at the IWC," he said.
Mr Hayashi said Japan's withdrawal from the IWC was still an option should this week's meeting fail to make any progress on legitimising their whale cull.
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