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When they kill whales, hunters invoke the Buddha and pray for the repose of whales' souls; they held funerals for whales, built cenotaphs for them, gave posthumous Buddhist names to them, and when a dead fetus is removed from a butchered cow, an effort is made to release it into the sea.
These practices are intended to encourage emotionally healthy or spiritual relationships with whales, and are connected with Japanese religious beliefs.
Japan continued to hunt whales using the scientific research provision in the agreement, and Japanese whaling is currently conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research.
This was allowed under IWC rules, although most IWC members oppose it.
In the early 20th century, Jūrō Oka dominated the whale meat market in Japan with assistance and instruction from Norwegian whalers and their leased or purchased ships.
Another boost was provided by the capture of a Russian whaling fleet and subsequent transfer to Toyo Gyo Gyo Co. As Japan's whaling industry expanded into new territory, including Korean waters, ship production and oil processing, Oka's company (renamed Toyo Hogei K.
K.) returned significant profits to its investors which led to increased Japanese competition.
Oka later became the first president of the Japan Whaling and Fishing Association, established in 1908.
He also established the first modern whaling company in Japan in 1899, Nihon Enyo Gyogyo K. which took its first whale on February 4, 1900, with a Norwegian gunner, Morten Pedersen.
Japan maintains that annual whaling is sustainable and necessary for scientific study and management of whale stocks, though the Antarctic minke whale populations have declined since the beginning of the JARPA program Archeological evidence in the form of whale remains discovered in burial mounds suggests that whales have been consumed in Japan since the Jōmon period (between c. Without the means to engage in active whaling, consumption at that time primarily stemmed from stranded whales.
Techniques were developed in the 17th century in Taiji, Wakayama.
Although the primary use for whales was meat, the entire whale was used in a variety of products including lamp oil, soaps, fertilizer, folding fans (baleen), and more.
This method of whaling required a significant financial investment from rich individuals to compensate for the sizable labor force.
These hunts are a source of conflict between pro- and anti-whaling countries and organizations.