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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Japan puts whale burger on menu
By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Tokyo

Whale burger on sale in  Lucky Pierrot restaurant in Japanese city of Hakodate - 23/06/05
The burger contains meat from minke whale
A small chain of restaurants in northern Japan has started serving whale burgers.

The chain said it hoped to increase whale meat's popularity among locals.

The new dish coincides with Japan's failure to overturn a ban on commercial whale hunting at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Japan has said it will double the number of whales it kills for scientific research, a move that was opposed by an IWC vote on Wednesday.

The chain of restaurants, on the island of Hokkaido, said the burgers were selling well. A spokeswoman said the timing of the new dish, coinciding with the annual meeting of the IWC in South Korea, was accidental.

But she said she hoped it would give more young people a chance to try whale, which was once commonplace on the menu, but has declined in popularity over the years.

All of Japan's whale meat comes from the 700 or so it is allowed to kill every year for research purposes.

Conservationists condemn this cull as unnecessary and unscientific.

They have been outraged by Japan's announcement that it plans to double the number of whales it hunts, saying this will flood the Japanese market with more whale meat than its citizens are prepared to eat.

The burger chain in Hokkaido would probably disagree.


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