But - maybe due to its faceslap by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) - it's targeting fewer whales. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the Pacific catch target was being slashed by nearly half, from the current 380 to about 210.
Japan also announced it will merely OBSERVE whales in the Antarctic next season, with the aim of later resuming full-fledged commercial whaling.
Japan has NOT dumped plans to continue whaling in both oceans for research purposes AT ALL!
Last month, the ICJ ordered Japan to suspend Antarctic whaling because it was virtually commercial, not "scientific" as Japan claimed. The ICJ said Japan produced little actual research and failed to explain why it needed to kill so many whales in order to study them. The ruling left Japan the option of 'tweeking' its whaling to be more "scientific" (though any new Antarctic plan would face intense scrutiny). Experts said the ruling could be a convenient, face-saving solution for Japan to scale back the research whaling as it struggles with growing stockpiles of whale meat and escalating anti-whaling protests.
The annual spring hunt along Japan's northern coast started this week, the distant northern Pacific expedition rolls out in May, with another coastal hunt planned in the Northern autumn.
Minister Hayashi: "We will continue our research hunts aimed at collecting scientific data and seek to resume commercial whaling. We re-examined the content of our research programmes and came up with the plans that give the maximum consideration to the ruling, and we plan to fully explain that to other countries."
He says Japan will limit next season's Antarctic programme to whale observation, but plans to return to the southern seas with hunting plans under a new programme for the 2015-2016 season. Japan aims to submit new Antarctic and Pacific programmes to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) later this year.