Tradition

Do children need to experience every aspect of their parent’s culture, no matter how outdated?

Link: Science News Article | Reuters.com.

TOKYO (Reuters) – Whale meat is back on the menu in a growing number of Japanese elementary and junior high schools, Kyodo news service reported on Tuesday.

The board of education in Wakayama prefecture in western Japan, an area known as the birthplace of organized whaling in the country, is promoting the drive to put whale on school menus.

The board provided some 1,657 kilograms of whale meat for more than 100 elementary and junior high schools in Kyoto, Osaka and Nara prefectures and Tokyo in January of this year alone, Kyodo said, citing local officials.

The amount for January was about double the amount for all of 2005.

"We want (schoolchildren) to know Japan’s traditional dietary culture through whale meat which was popular in the past," it quoted a board of education official as saying.

Japan abandoned commercial whaling in 1986, in line with an international moratorium, but began catching whales again the following year for what it calls scientific research.

The meat of minke whale from Japan’s research whaling is used to make dishes such as deep-fried whale seasoned with soy sauce, Kyodo said.

The British-based charity the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said last week that Japan’s stockpile of whale meat stood at 4,800 tonnes last year compared with 673 tonnes in March 1998, and that this year it had doubled its hunt of minke whales as well as adding humpback and fin whales to the tally.

It estimated that this could add a further 1,700 tonnes of whale meat to already bursting warehouses.