This morning Keiko (press officer for Greenpeace Japan) sent me an article from the Asahi Shimbun (a major Japanese newspaper). It makes me wish I understood Japanese culture better. If this was in a UK or US newspaper I'd suspect the writer was being cleverly sarcastic, but I'm not sure they really do sarcasm in the Japan. Here's the start of the English version:

When Japan bowed out of commercial whaling operations 20 years ago, it opted to conduct "scientific whaling" instead.

The controversial strategy seemed to offer an opportunity to learn more about whales at a time of worldwide concern about declining stocks of these gracious mammals.

So what has Japan learned?

Well, it has caught and slaughtered more than 10,000 whales in pursuit of mostly sketchy and hotly disputed data about whale populations. But that seems a meager result for two decades of research.

Meantime, whale meat has ended up in the marketplace just as before. This has coincided with moves in some parts of Japan to reintroduce children to the joys of whale meat in their school lunches.

At any rate, it is good to see the issue being more seriously addressed in Japanese media. In the year's past it's been mostly ignored or portrayed from a strictly nationalistic point of view. I can think of lots of reasons this has happened, but think the whale love wagon did its small part to open up the debate.