Whaling boats embarked Monday on their first commercial hunts since 1988, when Japan switched to so-called research whaling, but will stay within the country's exclusive economic waters.
The return of commercial whaling was a "milestone in the history of Shimonoseki", Mayor Shintato Maeda told reporters, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
Its withdrawal was announced past year, with Japan claiming that whale stocks had recovered enough to hunt the marine mammal again.
The fisheries ministry told the BBC it would start issuing permits for hunts on 1 July.
In the Southern Ocean, the ban on commercial whaling has helped some populations of humpback whale increase by 10% per year.
Iceland caught only 17 whales, while Norway hunted 432 for the 2017-2018 season, way below their catch quota of 378 and 1,278 respectively, according to the IWC. Whaling is a small industry in Japan, employing around 300 people, and five vessels are expected to set sail in July.
Whaling nations have all said that the practice is part of their culture and should be able to continue in a sustainable way. After Tokyo resigned from the International Whaling Commission, commercial whaling is starting again today.
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With the dwindling popularity of whale meat in Japan, the commercialising is also seen as a step towards ending of commercial whaling itself.
But not all Shimonoseki residents were delighted. Ishikawa was formerly involved in scientific whaling program as leader of a hunting team.
The bloodied body of a Minke whale could be seen being unloaded by fishermen when the boat returned.
He said he hoped whale meat would be reasonably priced so that it will gain popularity in the long term instead of becoming an expensive delicacy for a limited clientele.
But the figure has been hovering at close to zero since 1987. It drastically cut back its catch in recent years after global protests escalated and whale meat consumption slumped at home.
In contrast, Homan focuses on Russia's absurd conquest almost fifty years ago for a strangely intensive whaling expedition that wiped out entire populations from the seas for reasons that do not seem to have been anything other than statistics entered in the government books. Some commercial whalers are unsure if there is a big enough market for whale meat for their industry to survive. "If we fail to protect whales, the future for mankind and our planet will be very bleak indeed". Sei whale are classified as endangered but their numbers are increasing. They will hunt minke, sei and Bryde's whales in Japanese waters. In a detailed and startling report by Charles Homan on the Pacific Standard, Berzin has been quoted as calling the Japanese's crime a motivated one, one that was "at least understandable" in the light of the fact that at least 90% of the whales they caught were used.
No longer bound by the IWC's rules, Japan can harvest whales here under the right given by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea but the number and species it will decide to take hasn't been announced.