Whaleburger school lunches in Japan

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WHALE meat has returned to Japanese school lunches 20 years after it went off the menu.

Nearly 85 per cent of public schools in Wakayama, Japan’s whaling heartland, are serving whale meat lunches, usually as burgers or marinated in sweet and sour sauce.

“Children say it is really tasty,” Wakayama education official Tetsuji Sawada said. “The purpose of having whale meat lunch is to let our children know Japanese whaling tradition and whale food culture.”

International whaling was banned in 1982 with environmentalists arguing that whale populations were declining and the hunt was cruel.

Whale, a traditional part of the Japanese diet, went off nearly all school menus. Since 1987 Japan has used a loophole in the moratorium and killed smaller minke whales for what it calls research.

But Mr Sawada said meat was too expensive for school lunches and the educational office lobbied for months for lower meat prices.

“There was demand for whale meat but we simply could not afford it for school lunches,” he said. “Thanks to the help from the Government, we were able to offer whale meat for our children.”

Japan says research shows whale populations are thriving and consuming valuable fish stocks — points disputed by environmentalists.

Tokyo reportedly plans to start killing two larger species of whale considered endangered by the World Conservation Union.

Source: Herald Sun