Japan’s Whale Meat Eating Likened to Kangaroo Meat Eating in Australia

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By Athena Yenko | April 16, 2014 3:59 PM EST

Japan: On Tuesday, political officials and important figures in society convene for Japan's annual whale meat eating event.

The country decided to celebrate its whaling culture for the day despite a ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) banning the country from whale hunting activities in Antarctica, The Japan Times reports.

"Japan's whaling is based on scientific reasons, while counterarguments by anti-whaling groups are emotional, saying they are against the hunts because whales are cute or smart," Shunichi Suzuki, a Lower House lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said during an interview.

Suzuki is spearheading the petition calling for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to allow Japan to continue its whale hunt activities in defiance of the ICJ ruling.

According to the report, Japanese only consume 40 grams of whale meat per year before the ICJ ruling. However, during the 26th annual whale meat buffet on Tuesday, there were 600 people who feasted on sashimi, deep fried and other dishes of whale meat, a 50 per cent increase in attendees from 2013.

The ICJ ruling also sparked an increase in whale meat consumption, as Japanese consumers were afraid that they could no longer eat whale meat in the future.

"Our customers are worried that they will no longer be able to have whale cuisine," said Mutsuko Onishi, president of Osaka-based whale eatery Tokuya. Onishi said that her costumers increased by 30 per cent following the ICJ ruling.

Meanwhile, most of the people who attended the feast are calling for other nations to respect their culture of whaling.

"I don't understand why only Japan's whaling is attacked. What about Australians eating kangaroos or Koreans eating dogs?" one woman attendee said. She also shared that back in her elementary days, her school used to serve whale meat for lunch.

Speaking of kangaroos, Australia's Agriculture Minster Barnaby Joyce held a kangaroo dinner for foreign representatives from Russia, China, Thailand and the Philippines on March 5, 2014.

Australia's kangaroo industry amounts to AU$270 million yearly as recorded by the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia.

Australia is exporting kangaroo meat and skins to more than 55 countries, according to data from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Kangaroo meat export to Europe started as far back as 1959.

To date, the European Union and Russia are Australia's largest market. The market for kangaroo meat shows promising growth in the United States and Asian countries.

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