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The Independent Online

The Japanese decision to start killing sperm whales and Bryde's whales, which we reported exclusively yesterday, is a provocative one. It comes just weeks after the attempt by Japan and Norway to re-open the trade in whalemeat was rejected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Japan pretends that its extended programme of slaughter is for the purposes of scientific research. It is a strange kind of science that requires so many specimens to be killed. It is a strange kind of research that requires - in addition to the 500 minke already killed each year - 50 Bryde's whales a year and 10 sperm whales. Why does scientific research into one species need five or 50 times as many corpses as another? What are they doing in those sinister laboratories in the suburbs of Tokyo? Manipulating whale DNA in order to produce Pokémon?

Sadly, the only plausible explanation, apart from the unthinkable possibility that the Japanese authorities may be lying, is that they are engaged in a very simple experiment. They want to see what the effect of exterminating the world's population of several species of whale would be. They must not be allowed to succeed.