"Japan Subsidy for Whaling Is Challenged"

"TOKYO -- A wildlife conservation group said in a report on Wednesday that Japan has been propping up its whaling industry with nearly $400 million in tax money in recent years, stepping up subsidies even as consumption of whale meat here has slumped."

"The report, compiled by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, in Yarmouth Port, Mass., challenges assertions by the Japanese government that whaling is a tradition with wide support among Japanese consumers.

Instead, government figures tallied in the report paint a picture of a struggling industry employing fewer than 1,000 people and dependent on public handouts, including money meant for reconstruction after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

Most Japanese consumers have turned away from whale meat. The industry shipped just 5,000 tons in 2011, compared with 233,000 tons at the peak in 1962, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Demand this year is so low that the industry has cut its planned shipments by half, to 2,400 tons."

Hiroko Tabuchi reports for the New York Times February 6, 2013.

Source: NY Times, 02/07/2013