Japan began its first commercial whale hunts in more than three decades on Monday, brushing aside outrage over its resumption of a practice that conservationists call cruel and outdated.
Five vessels from whaling communities left port in northern Japan’s Kushiro and by afternoon, a first whale had been caught.
The country’s Fisheries Agency said it had set a cap for a total catch of 227 whales through the season until late December.
The hunts come after Japan’s withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission, a move slammed by anti-whaling activists but welcomed by Japanese whaling communities.
Whaling has long proved a diplomatic flashpoint for Tokyo, which says the practice is a Japanese tradition that should not be subject to international interference.