- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

SHIMONOSEKI, Japan Delegates arriving at an annual international whaling conference were greeted yesterday by thousands of infuriated Japanese nationalists who say that the opposition of Britain and the United States to a resumption of commercial whaling amounts to little more than cultural imperialism.
About 200 cars and trucks carrying loudspeakers drove through Shimonoseki in western Japan, broadcasting pro-whaling slogans ahead of the annual International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting.
Other protesters took to boats to circle the harbor proclaiming: "Reopen the whaling industry. Whales are Japan's food culture."
Japan is seeking an end to the moratorium on the commercial hunting of whales. Most western nations remain firmly opposed but the balance of power within the IWC has shifted closer to the Japanese side.
The Japanese government says an increase in the whale population is depleting fish stocks. Elliot Morley, the British fisheries minister, dismissed this argument as "ludicrous" on Sunday.
Japan's decision to host the IWC meeting in the former whaling town of Shimonoseki is a controversial one.
Just streets away from where the delegates are gathered, fishmongers sell whale meat that was ostensibly caught by Japan for scientific research.
Japan continues to hunt whales under a loophole that allows it to catch them for research. The whale meat then finds its way into markets and restaurants where it is sold as a gourmet treat.
A nearby restaurant is selling whale bacon, raw whale meat and whale stew at special prices to commemorate the IWC meeting.
"Bring your friends and family and enjoy to your heart's content," says the sign. The whale dishes cost between $5 and $10.
Local trade unionists set up stalls in front of the convention hall to sell canned whale meat under posters that show whales draining the world of fish.


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