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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.On January 15, 2017, a helicopter in the Australian Whale Sanctuary photographed the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru with a freshly-killed minke whale on its deck.Antarctic minke whale have experienced an apparent decline in population, though the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates that it lacks sufficient data to confer a "threatened" designation on the species of minke whale.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.His grandson, Wada Kakuemon Yoriharu, later known as Taiji Kakuemon Yoriharu, invented the whaling net technique called amitori-shiki (網取り式).Instead of trying to harpoon whales in open water, now twenty or more boats would encircle a whale and make a racket, driving it towards the shallows into nets wielded by a second group of six boats.
The UN's International Court of Justice, in addition to other Nations, scientists, and environmental organizations consider the Japanese research program to be unnecessary and lacking scientific merit, and describe it as a thinly disguised commercial whaling operation.During the 20th century, Japan was heavily involved in commercial whaling.This continued until the International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling went into effect in 1986.However, whaling remained entwined with ritual and unlike their contemporary European counterparts the early Japanese coastal whalers considered whales a valuable resource and did not over-exploit local stocks.
Domestically, Japanese writers have tried to call attention to historical whale declines due to whaling practices by other nations over hundreds of years, some of which continue today, and assert that motives and objectives of Japanese whaling customs differ from other nations.
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.