Australia's Sea Shepherd has slammed Japanese whalers following news of "gruesome" images of a dead whale being cut into pieces in front of schoolchildren in Wada, Japan.
According to reports, supporters of Japanese whalers have accused Western critics and conservationists of cultural imperialism for trying to stop a tradition dating back to hundreds of years.
However, statistical reports reveal that whale consumption in Japan had declined in the recent years. This led to large quantities of whale meat in storage. Conservationists like the Sea Shepherd believe the whales were being killed for no reason.
Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson said Japanese whalers are becoming "desperate" because they know whaling is a "dying tradition." He added whalers are trying to promote practice to the younger generation.
He believes some of the schoolchildren in the photos were "distressed" to see a whale being carved up. Reports said the primary school students visiting the whaling company, Gaibo Hogei, can be heard "gasping" as the workers sliced the whale carcass.
The company president Yoshinori Shoji told the young students to close their eyes if they felt afraid.
Patrick Ramage from the International Fund for Animal Welfare said children in Japan should meet whales through whale watching and not by eating their meat.
The hunting season for this year began on June 20 after an international court had ordered Japan to end its controversial whale hunt in the Antarctic after failing to present evidence of the practice's "scientific value."
Despite the whaling ban in Antarctic and the growing criticism from the international community, Japanese whalers have continued to hunt for whales in the northwest Pacific. According to reports, Japan is also planning to revise its whaling program to continue the hunt while meeting the demands of the United Nations' International Court of Justice.
The Japanese delegation spokesman, Nori Shikata, has suggested at The Hague that his country will still continue its whaling program. Japan has two separate whaling programs and the one questioned in the case is the one in Antarctica. Japan has earlier expressed its intention to abide by the "world court" judgment should it support Australia's case.
Executive Director of Sea Shepherd Global Captain Alex Cornelissen praised the victory of Australia against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean but promised that the anti-whaling organisation will continue its campaign in other regions.