Japan reported killed at least 333 minke whales in 2017/18 for research-related purposes, according to a report released by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Of these, 122 were reportedly pregnant when they were hunted down.
The IWC has said that two vessels were fitted with whaling canons, which fire spears at high velocity, and sent out to hunt whales. It is alleged that the canons were also equipped with grenades.
In all, 344 whales were targeted but 11 are believed to have managed to escape. The rest were not so lucky. And although the official reason for the endeavour was deemed research, critics say it is a hollow defence because the whales would eventually be sold for their meat.
Japan is one of several countries that have signed IWC's whale hunting moratorium, according to newshub.nz. This means Japan has committed itself to not hunt whales for commercial purposes. Animal and whale activists however strongly suspect the country of conducting commercial hunting expeditions on the sly. In a meeting of IWC in 2010, countries like Japan, Norway and Iceland asked for the ban on commercial whaling be lifted. The appeal has been strongly opposed as also has been a compromise solution which could allow whaling for commercial purposes of smaller species.