Number of whales killed for scientific purposes in Japan from 1999 to 2015

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The statistic shows the number of whales killed for scientific purposes in Japan from 1999 to 2015. In 2008/2009, 1,004 whales were killed for scientific purposes.


Whaling in Japan – additional information

Whaling has been an important part in Japanese history. Hunting these large mammals has become a practice in Japan since early times. In recent years, archeologists found evidence of hand thrown harpoons dating back to the 12th century. Throughout the ages, whales have been killed for their meat and oil products. Consumption of whale meat is an old Japanese tradition that was established during the Second World War, when whale meat became a common nation-wide food source for Japanese citizens. Lamp oil, candles, cosmetics and soaps, such as fertilizer are products made from various bits of a whale’s body. Over the last centuries, whale products have been largely replaced and can now be made from alternative resources. For example, lamp oil can be created from petroleum.

Japanese whaling has been a topic of conflict among pro- and anti-whaling groups and organizations for many years. The fact that unregulated whaling has taken a significant toll among several whale populations has prompted many campaigns of various groups such as Sea-Shepherd and Greenpeace to protest strongly against whaling.

Although the global whaling era ended decades ago, Japan, Norway and Iceland are still actively involved in whale hunting. However, Japan maintains that their annual whale hunting is sustainable and necessary for scientific purposes, rather than for commercial meat selling. Nowadays, the Japanese report practicing whaling only for the research purposes and to learn about whale population health and behaviors. Nevertheless, there were almost 900 whales killed in 2014 that were considered catches under objection.

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