Whale Meat Glut a Problem for Japan

By HIROKO TABUCHI Associated Press Writer

February 09,2006 | TOKYO -- Japan has enticed children with whale burger school lunches, sung the praises of the red meat in colorful pamphlets, and declared whale hunting "a national heritage."

But Tokyo has a dilemma: by rapidly expanding its whale hunt, Japan now kills more of the giant mammals than its consumers care to eat...

It's a tough sell.

"To put it simply, whale meat tastes horrible," said 30-year-old Kosuke Nakamura.

But the glut of whale meat hasn't stopped the harpoon guns. Tokyo plans to kill -- under a research program -- some 1,070 minke whales in 2006, over 400 more than last year. Japan will also hunt 10 fin whales, and a total of 160 Bryde's, sei and sperm whales, fisheries official Kenji Masuda said.

Some local governments have begun offering whale meat in school lunches.

Wakayama, a prefecture with a whale-hunting tradition 280 miles southwest of Tokyo, has been aggressive in getting youngsters to eat whale, introducing whale meals at 270 public schools in 2005.

Nutritionists have even developed child-friendly whale dishes, including whale meatballs, hamburgers and whale spaghetti bolognese, said Tetsuji Sawada of Wakayama's education board.


---Too bad Jim Capaldi isn't still around.


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