Earlier this year, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of BBC News spoke with a high-ranking member of the Japanese government about why Japan continues its whaling practices. His answer was vague but gives somewhat of an explanation.
"Antarctic whaling is not part of Japanese culture," he told BBC News. "It is terrible for our international image and there is no commercial demand for the meat. I think in another 10 years there will be no deep sea whaling in Japan [but] there are some important political reasons why it is difficult to stop now."
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Junko Sakuma, who worked for Greenpeace in Japan and has studied Japanese whaling extensively, believes the government official was referring to the fact that if whaling in Japan ceases, it will mean job layoffs under bureaucrats currently in office, which would reflect badly on them.
"If the number of staff in a bureaucrat's office decreases while they are in charge, they feel tremendous shame," she told BBC News. "Which means most of the bureaucrats will fight to keep the whaling section in their ministry at all costs. And that is true with the politicians as well. If the issue is closely related to their constituency, they will promise to bring back commercial whaling. It is a way of keeping their seats."