Japan To Hold Whale Hunts Despite Activist Threats

10/04/2011 09:59 am ET | Updated Dec 04, 2011

TOKYO — Japan plans to go ahead with its whaling program in the Antarctic later this year despite threats from activists to disrupt the annual hunt.

Japan's hunts have become increasingly tense in recent years because of clashes with the conservationist group Sea Shepherd. The most recent hunt was cut short after several high-seas confrontations, and it was unclear if the hunt would be held at all this year.

But Japan's fisheries minister said Tuesday measures will be taken to ensure the safety of the whalers and the hunt will go ahead. It is expected to begin in December.

Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986, but Japan conducts whale hunts in the Antarctic and the northwestern Pacific under an exception that allows limited kills for research purposes.