Japan’s fisheries minister said Tuesday his country will never stop hunting whales, despite fierce criticism from other nations and violent clashes at sea with militant environmentalists.
“I don’t think there will be any kind of an end for whaling by Japan,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told AFP in an exclusive interview.
Hayashi, who took the ministerial post overseeing the country’s whaling programmes in December, said the criticism of the practice is “a cultural attack, a kind of prejudice against Japanese culture”.
There is “a long historical tradition about whaling”, he told AFP in his large central Tokyo office, over which portraits of Japan’s revered Emperor and Empress gazed down.
“Japan is an island nation surrounded by the sea, so taking some good protein from the ocean is very important. For food security I think it’s very important. We have never said everybody should eat whale, but we have a long tradition and culture of whaling. So why don’t we at least agree to disagree? We have this culture and you don’t have that culture,” said the 52-year-old, who views the whaling port of Shimonoseki in Japan’s southwest as home.