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Japan: tsunami relief funds whale hunt

Government admits public funds earmarked for reconstruction are being funneled to the annual whale hunt.
Japan whale hunt 2011 12 08Enlarge
Fishermen slaughter a whale at Wada Port on July 29, 2009 in Minamiboso, Chiba, Japan. (Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

What's more controversial than Japan's Antarctic whale hunt?

The fact that the Japanese government has admitted to subsidizing the hunt with public funds earmarked for tsunami relief.

Greenpeace accused the government of diverting 2.28 billion yen (or $30 million) in relief funds to subsidize the hunt.

The whaling fleet, which plans to kill nearly 1,000 whales, left port Wednesday under heavy guard.

Fishermen say the whales will be used for research purposes, though the meat is sold commercially.

Government officials have rationalized the decision to subsidize the hunt by stating that a "successful whaling program would help ensure the recovery of some coastal towns devastated by this year's tsunami."