Whaling is a part of daily life in the tiny Japanese community of Minamiboso Photo: AFP

Japan's whalers back treaty withdrawal

MINAMIBOSO, Chiba. Neatly lining up sliced whale meat to make "jerky" in the wintry sea breeze, Tetsuya Masaki says whaling is just part of daily life in his tiny Japanese community of Minamiboso, Chiba Prefecture.

Japan sparked outrage in December when it decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission, saying it would return to commercial whaling as part of its cultural heritage.

Rarely is that heritage more in evidence that in Minamiboso, a town on the Pacific coast some 70 kilometers south of Tokyo that is home to Gaibo Hogei, one of a handful of remaining local whaling companies.

Masaki, 32, a processing factory worker for Gaibo Hogei, admits that the local whaling industry has shrunk but says it is still an "indispensable" part of the town -- especially during the summer whaling season.

The firm allows local residents and tourists to watch whales being dismembered at its slaughterhouse as part of efforts to keep alive the region's 400-year-old whaling history.

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