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July 26, 2017

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60% of Japanese support whale hunt: poll

TOKYO -- Sixty percent of Japanese people support the country's whaling program, but only 14 percent eat whale meat, a new poll showed Tuesday.

The survey comes less than a month after the United Nations' top court ruled the annual mission to the Southern Ocean by Japanese whaling vessels was a commercial hunt masquerading as science in a bid to skirt an international ban.

A weekend opinion poll conducted by the liberal Asahi Shimbun newspaper showed that 60 percent of 1,756 voters supported the "research" whaling program, against 23 percent who opposed it.

Asked how often they ate whale meat, however, only four percent said they eat "sometimes" and another 10 percent said they eat it "fairly infrequently."

Nearly half (48 percent) said they have not eaten it for "a long time," while 37 percent of respondents said they never eat whale meat.

Although not difficult to find in Japan, whale meat is not a regular part of most Japanese people's diet.

The survey was conducted a day after Japan said it would redesign its Antarctic whaling mission in a bid to make it more scientific, and confirmed it would press ahead with the "research whaling" in the northwestern Pacific. The fleet is due to depart on Saturday.

Tokyo said there would be no hunting in the Southern Ocean in the 2014-15 season, but vessels would be there to carry out "non-lethal research." However, the announcement raised the possibility that harpoon ships would return the following year.

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