Japan's new whaling ship ready for first hunt

STORY: Japan's first domestically produced whaling mothership in 70 years arrived in Tokyo on Thursday ahead of its maiden hunting expedition off the country’s northeastern coast.

The Kangei Maru will process and store the whales caught by a fleet of smaller vessels.

This will include the fin whale as Japan recently announced it would be added to the list of species permitted in commercial whaling.

Here’s Hideki Tokoro, president of whaling company Kyodo Senpaku.

"The government and the Institute of Cetacean Research have provided us with a quota that allows us to catch fin whales for 100 years. We can take the permitted number of whales without any concern at all. And in fact, there are a large number of fin whales, according to our crew's observations."

Japan, which says eating whale meat is part of its culture, long campaigned without success for the International Whaling Commission to allow commercial whaling.

The island nation withdrew from the international body in 2019 and resumed commercial whaling in its territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone.

The Humane Society said "There is no nutritional, scientific or moral justification for killing these magnificent ocean giants.”

The Kangei Maru is capable of reaching Antarctic Ocean and its operator says it would go to the region under the request of the Japanese government - though there are no plans of doing so yet.