The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) voiced cautious optimism that Japan would end the state-funded whaling programme, which had cost the country in both diplomatic and financial terms. For its part Greenpeace has long argued that the state-financed whale hunts are a waste of taxpayer money and produce excess stockpiles of unwanted whale meat. "We want people in Japan and abroad to understand that behind the decision this time is the fact that fewer and fewer Japanese people eat whale meat," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace campaigner in Japan.
Japan kills hundreds of whales a year under a loophole in a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling that allows whaling for "scientific research", and the government has long defended the practice as part of the island-nation's culture.
Anti-whaling nations (led by Australia, the Buenos Aires Group of south American countries, New Zealand, Monaco) together with environmental groups call the hunts totally unjustified and unnecessary since scientific questions on whales can be largely answered today via non-lethal means . Militant activists have for years harassed Japanese harpoon ships on their Antarctic hunts.
 See CIESM Workshop Monograph 25 'Investigating the roles of cetaceans in marine ecosystems'