18% of Grade Schools in Japan Feed Whale to Kids

lunch time at a school in japan
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Photo via kasei.co.uk

It turns out that a surprisingly high number of grade schools in Japan are serving their students more than just a well-rounded education. According to the results of a survey released today, whale meat is back on the menu at about a sixth of Japan's public elementary and junior-high schools. In recent years, the nation has stirred the ire of environmentalists for continuing to hunt whales despite a decline in the meat's popularity -- to feed their kids, apparently.According to a report from The Japan Times, the survey conducted by Kyodo News found that 5,355 public primary and junior-high schools served cooked whale meat to its students at least once during the 2010 school year -- amounting to about 18 percent of public schools in Japan. Just a few decades past, whale meat was much more present in the country's public schools, but it had become less common as international restrictions on whaling help curb the market. But now kids are eating it again.

Despite those restriction on commercial whaling, the Japanese government continues the practice under the guise of 'scientific research' through the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR). Because the popularity of eating whale meat has fallen sharply throughout Japan and the world, the ICR has a bit of a problem on their hands -- thousands of tons of meat that nobody wants to buy. The simplest solution, evidently, was to sell it to schools for a low price.

"It is obvious that (Japan) continues whaling despite there being little demand," Jun Hoshikawa, executive director of Greenpeace Japan, told the Times.

Oddly enough, Japan has pushed to raise their whaling quota in recent years. In the last decade, the number of whales to be culled has been raised several times -- since the practice is still making some people a lot of money.

While there's certainly a place for whales in grade schools -- it should be in the students' imagination, not their stomachs.