Japan is about to resume catching whales for profit, in defiance of international criticism.
Its last commercial hunt was in 1986, but Japan has never really stopped whaling - it has been conducting instead what it says are research missions which catch hundreds of whales annually.
But Japan has now withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which banned hunting, and will send out its first whaling fleet this July.
Isn't whaling banned?
Whales were brought to the brink of extinction by hunting in the 19th and early 20th Century. By the 1960s, more efficient catch methods and giant factory ships made it obvious that whale hunting could not go unchecked.
So in 1986, all IWC members agreed to a hunting moratorium to allow whale numbers to recover.
Conservationists were happy but whaling countries - like Japan, Norway and Iceland - assumed the moratorium would be temporary until everyone could .
But there were exceptions in the moratorium, allowing indigenous groups to carry out subsistence whaling, and allowing whaling for scientific purposes.
Tokyo put that latter clause to full use. Since 1987, Japan has killed between 200 and 1,200 whales each year, saying this was to monitor stocks to establish sustainable quotas.
Critics say this was just a cover so Japan could hunt whales for food, as the meat from the whales killed for research usually did end up for sale.
Why is Japan restarting whaling now?
In 2018 Japan tried one last time to convince the IWC to allow whaling under sustainable quotas, but failed. So it left the body, effective July 2019.
The fisheries ministry told the BBC it would start issuing permits for hunts on 1 July. "But the starting date is subject to decisions of the whalers, weather and other conditions."
Whaling is a small industry in Japan, employing around 300 people. About five vessels are expected to set sail in July.
The whaling "will be conducted within Japan's territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone", Hideki Moronuki of the Japanese fishing ministry told the BBC.
This means Japan will no longer hunt whales in the Antarctic, as it did under its earlier research programme.
Like other whaling nations, Japan argues hunting and eating whales are part of its culture. A number of coastal communities in Japan have indeed hunted whales for centuries but consumption only became widespread after World War Two when other food was scarce.
From the late 1940s to the mid-1960s whale was the single biggest source of meat in Japan but since become a niche product again.