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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #12 - Kagoshima to welcome fleet home

Minami-nihon (Southern Japan) Broadcasting has a story about plans in Kagoshima (a city at the southern coast of Kyushu) to welcome home the JARPA fleet. The following is my translation:
Research whaling fleet welcome plans established [01/18 17:08]

The research fleet currently conducting research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean will visit the port of Kagoshima for the first time this April, and a committee to hold a welcome event was launched today.

The two vessels that are scheduled to visit Kagoshima port for the first time are the "Nisshin Maru (8030 tonnes) and the "Yushin Maru No. 2 (747 tonnes)", which left the port of Shimonoseki last November and are currently conducting whale research in the Antarctic Ocean. In the current research programme, 850 minke whales and 10 fin whales will be caught, and in mid-April the ships are scheduled to dock in Kagoshima, where a portion of the catch will be landed. Today the prefecture and city, along with related parties such as the chamber of commerce launched a committee, and discussions were held regarding an event to welcome the visit of the research vessels. The "Whale festival in Kagoshima" event will be held on the two days of April 21st and 22nd, with the research ships opened to the general public at Kagoshima City's waterfront park. 4000 portions of "kujira shiru" (whale soup) is set to be provided to the public free of charge.
The Nisshin Maru is the "research mother ship", while the Yushin Maru No. 2 is one of the sighting/sampling vessels (SSVs).

Kagoshima doesn't feature in the regional section of the official frozen stock figures for whale meat currently, but based on this report it seems we can expect to see Kagoshima appear when the figures for April are released later this year.

UPDATE 2007/01/19:
More articles appeared on this story in the Japanese media today. My translation from this article from 373 news:
Every year on it's return from the Antarctic Ocean, the research fleet is opened to the general public in several locations around the country to promote understanding of whaling. This occasion will be the 14th. In Kagoshima, the research mother ship "Nisshin Maru" and sighting/sampling vessel "Yushin Maru No. 2" will be on display, and at the "Whale festival in Kagoshima" event, 4,000 portions of kujira-shiru will be distributed free of charge, with shochu (Japanese spirits) using ice from the Antarctic also prepared for taste testing.

At the meeting of the event committee, the chair, Kagoshima city major Hiroyuki Mori greeted attendees, saying "I hope to make this an event that pleases city and prefectural citizens".

In April the fleet will return to Japan at Taniyama port, Kagoshima, where 1,500 tonnes of whale products will be unloaded and shipped across the country.

Kazuo Yamamura (59), president of Tokyo based Kyodo Senpaku, which is responsible for the operation of the research whaling vessels said "I hope the people take the chance to get to know the crew who will guide them around the vessels".
I think the bulk of the by-products will possibly be held in storage in Kagoshima until they are sold off in July.

Last year, judging by the regional stockpile figures, the meat was landed in the Tokyo area in addition to Kanazawa. This year the Tokyo stock levels appear to be being maintained at close to 1,000 tonnes, while the Kanazawa stockpile volume has dropped from 2,500 tonnes at the end of April to approx 500 tonnes at the end of November.

The e-kujira whale portal site has images from a similar festival held in Kagoshima last year (as well as images from other venues around the country, if you check the links at the bottom of the page).

Another page regarding the 2006 event in Kanazawa is here (lots of pictures if you are able to navigate your way through it)

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