Two dead Northern Bottlenose Whales with cut necks in the bay of Nes (Hvalba) on the Faroe Islands (Wikimedia)
A marine mammal park has been set to be constructed and launched within five years in Taiji, in Wakayama Prefecture on the south-west coast of Honshu. Visitors will get to swim alongside marine animals whales and dolphins. However, there's more to this park than meets the eye - visitors can also eat the animals' meat, a project sure to catch the ire of animal lovers and protectors.
The town after all was the subject of "The Cove," a 2009 documentary that looked into Japan's dolphin-hunting culture and the hunt. The film brought home the Academy Award for Best Documentary from the Oscars in 2010.
"This is part of Taiji's long-term plan of making the whole town a park, where you can enjoy watching marine mammals while tasting various marine products, including whale and dolphin meat," Masaki Wada, a local government official told AFP news agency.
Central Taiji, as viewed from the south, with the marina in the center and the Pacific is to the right (Wikimedia)
Mr Wada said Taiji has started working into proposals that would turn a part of the cove into a marine park. It would cover 69 acres and would be located close to Hatakejiri Bay.
"We already use dolphins and small whales as a source of tourism in the cove where dolphin hunting takes place," Mr Wada said.
"In summer, swimmers can enjoy watching the mammals that are released from a partitioned-off space," he added.
A Bottlenose Dolphin caught in a drive hunt in the Japanese town of Futo after having its throat cut. (Wikimedia)
As expected, animal lovers and conservationists blasted the absurd project proposal.
"The whole plan is based on the concept that they can exploit dolphins and whales freely as their resource, but the mammals don't belong to Taiji," Nanami Kurasawa, secretary general of Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network (IKAN), said.
"Marine mammals migrate across oceans, and international public opinion is that wildlife should be allowed to live as they are. The plan will only ignite more protests over dolphin-hunting," she said.
Clare Perry, a senior campaigner associated with The Environmental Investigation Agency, said it is unfortunate how Japanese locals regard the magnificent animals as just mammals meant to entertain them or feed them.
"Not content with slaughtering them by the thousands, capturing live dolphins, ripping them from their families and submitting them to a lifetime in captivity, they are now trying to make an extra buck by building a larger 'park' so people can swim with the dolphins whose relatives are being killed just round the corner," Ms Perry told HuffPost UK.
"Aside from the obvious welfare considerations, I have a very real concern that this will encourage larger captures to feed a new demand, putting further pressure on these populations that are already depleted from years of over-hunting."
The documentary "The Cove," produced via undercover by a SWAT team that used hidden microphones and hidden cameras, captured on film the senseless slaughter of at least 23,000 dolphins per year in the Taiji coastal village. It rattled the world.