Eating whale is a thorn in Japan’s increasingly groovy relationship with the rest of the world. Currently, Japan is limited to “scientific whaling”, which yields very little meat for consumption – making whale an expensive delicacy.
Whale meat became a staple of the Japanese diet in the food shortages after WWII. Containing more protein than any other meat, it provided 30% of the nation’s meat consumption, and was the only meat in school lunches.
Japan’s economic boom provided people with a greater range of foods from around the world, and the popularity of whale meat has fallen steadily since the 1960’s.
However, there is a great deal of political pressure to keep it on the menu. Japan’s whaling tradition is thousands of years old, and whale meat is an integral part of many festivals and traditions.
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“The International Whaling Commission estimates that 761,000 whales live in the Southern hemisphere – that’s ten times the whale population 100 years ago.”