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Japan pro-whaling lobby vows to continue hunts

  • Japan Whaling-1.jpg

    April 15, 2014: Supporters of Japan's whaling eat whale meat dishes during the 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo.AP

  • Japan Whaling-2.jpg

    Supporters of Japan's whaling gather around the table for buffet during the 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Hundreds of Japanese pro-whaling officials, lawmakers and lobby groups vowed to protect whale hunts despite the world court ruling that ordered the country’s Antarctic research culls must be stopped. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)The Associated Press

  • Japan Whaling-3.jpg

    A supporter of Japan's whaling eats a slice of whale meat during the 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Hundreds of Japanese pro-whaling officials, lawmakers and lobby groups vowed to protect whale hunts despite the world court ruling that ordered the country’s Antarctic research culls must be stopped. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)The Associated Press

  • Japan Whaling-4.jpg

    Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi speaks during the 26th whale meat tasting event in Tokyo Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Hundreds of Japanese pro-whaling officials, lawmakers and lobby groups vowed to protect whale hunts despite the world court ruling that ordered the country’s Antarctic research culls must be stopped. Hayashi told the meeting that Japan must protect its whale hunts and diet as cultural tradition. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)The Associated Press

Hundreds of pro-whaling Japanese officials, lawmakers and lobby group members have vowed to continue whale hunts despite a world court ruling that halted the country's Antarctic whaling program.

Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told the meeting Tuesday that Japan must protect its whale-eating culture and secure sources of whale meat. Whale meat dishes were served at the gathering near Japan's parliament.

The International Court of Justice ordered Japan on March 31 to stop granting permits for its Antarctic whaling program, which allowed an annual catch of about 1,000 whales. The court rejected Japan's contention that the program was scientific, not commercial.

Japan canceled next season's Antarctic expedition after the ruling but hasn't decided whether to conduct a separate coastal whaling program in the northern Pacific next month.