TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese fast food chain said it would sell 200 whale burgers a day to meet strong demand from its customers amid global criticism over the country's bid to expand whaling.
Burger chain Lucky Pierrot, which runs 10 shops in the northern island of Hokkaido, said the burger using minke whales caught under Japan's controversial "research" whaling program was selling like hotcakes.
"We fry minke whale meat and the burger really tastes like beef," manager Miku Oh said.
"We have decided to add a whale burger to our menu due to strong demand from our customers and feel very thankful to the whales for allowing us to make the burgers," she told AFP.
Twenty whale burgers, each priced at 380 yen (3.5 dollars), will be sold from Thursday at each of the chain's 10 outlets.
The launch of the whale burger came as the International Whaling Commission on Thursday rejected a bid by Japan to resume commercial catches of minke whales in the Pacific Ocean.
Japan, which calls anti-whaling campaigners disrespectful of its culture, kills whales as "research" under a clause in a 1986 moratorium.
Japan is campaigning for a full-scale return to commercial catches, saying whale stocks have recovered sufficiently during the 19-year ban.
It also plans to double its hunt of minke whales and to resume killing endangered fin whales and vulnerable humpbacks, despite fierce opposition by an alliance led by Australia.
Oh said the restaurant was aware of global criticism over Japan's efforts to expand research whale hunting but argued eating whale meat was part of the country's traditional food and should be treated with respect.
"We value our whale food culture and would like to offer it to our customers. We have a long tradition of eating whale meat as a port in Hakodate used to be a major whaling hub," she said, referring to the major port city in Hokkaido, some 800 kilometers (496 miles) north of Tokyo.
Earlier this year, most schools in Wakayama, Japan's western whaling heartland, resumed whale lunches which had gone off the menu amid global anti-whaling campaigns.Hoping children will take a liking to whale, the schools have served the meat in burgers and marinated it in sweet and sour sauce.
of course they want to get children hooked on it. This planet sucks.