| GEO Amazing and Interesting|
Thousands of Japanese schools serving whale meat
| Updated at: 1040 PST, Sunday, September 05, 2010|
TOKYO: Whale meat is on the menu at around a sixth of Japan's state-run elementary and junior high schools, a survey released Sunday showed.
Of 29,600 public elementary and junior high schools nationwide providing lunches for students, 5,355 schools served whale meat at least once during the fiscal year to March 2010, the survey by Kyodo news revealed.
In Japan, cooked whale meat was a regular item on school lunch menus in the 1960s and 1970s as the annual supply of the meat reached a peak of 220,000 tonnes.
It subsequently fell out of favour, with the supply dwindling to around 1,000 tonnes in the 1990s as an international ban on commercial whaling was introduced.
But whale meat has recently made a reappearance on the school lunch table as the country gradually increased its catch of the ocean giants, Kyodo said.
The Institute of Cetacean Research, which carries out whaling in the name of research, sells whale meat to local municipalities for school lunch use at one-third of the market price, it said.
Japan hunts whales under a loophole to an international moratorium that allows the killing of the sea mammals for scientific research, but it does not hide the fact that the meat is later sold in shops and restaurants.