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However, in March 2014 the UN's International Court of Justice ruled that the Japanese whaling program, called "JARPA II", in the Southern Ocean, including inside the Australian Whale Sanctuary, was not in accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and was not for scientific purposes, as it had claimed.
In December 2015, Japan went ahead with their whaling program, renamed "NEWREP-A".
Blue whales, sei, Bryde's and sperm whales were however also taken when possible.
Once ashore, the whale was quickly flensed and divided into its separate parts for various warehouses and further processing.
Wada Chubei Yorimoto established a fishery by organizing the group hunting system in 1606.
Whalers would spot whales from stations along the shore and launch boats to catch them with harpoons and lances.
When they kill whales, hunters invoke the Buddha and pray for the repose of whales' souls; they held funerals for whales, built cenotaphs for them, gave posthumous Buddhist names to them, and when a dead fetus is removed from a butchered cow, an effort is made to release it into the sea.
Techniques were developed in the 17th century in Taiji, Wakayama.
Supporters of the Japanese whaling tradition claim that the experience is both humble and emotional, and all parts of a whale are used, unlike westerners of the past who hunted only for whale oil.
In addition, Japan has strictly controlled catch quotas, and whalers have never hunted juveniles or cow/calf pairs due to their respect for whales.
The incident effectively marked the end of traditional Japanese whaling practice.
Norwegian-style modern whaling, based on the use of power-driven vessels, cannons and exploding harpoons, was introduced in the Meiji period largely through the efforts of Jūrō Oka who is considered the "father of modern Japanese whaling".