When they kill whales, hunters invoke the Buddha and pray for the repose of whales' souls; they held funerals for whales, built cenotaphs for them, gave posthumous Buddhist names to them, and when a dead fetus is removed from a butchered cow, an effort is made to release it into the sea.
These practices are intended to encourage emotionally healthy or spiritual relationships with whales, and are connected with Japanese religious beliefs.
Although the primary use for whales was meat, the entire whale was used in a variety of products including lamp oil, soaps, fertilizer, folding fans (baleen), and more.
Japan continued to hunt whales using the scientific research provision in the agreement, and Japanese whaling is currently conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research.
This was allowed under IWC rules, although most IWC members oppose it. N.'s International Court of Justice ruled that the Japanese whaling program, called "JARPA II", in the Southern Ocean, including inside the Australian Whale Sanctuary, was not in accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and was not for scientific purposes, as it had claimed.
However, whaling remained entwined with ritual and unlike their contemporary European counterparts the early Japanese coastal whalers considered whales a valuable resource and did not over-exploit local stocks.
Domestically, Japanese writers have tried to call attention to historical whale declines due to whaling practices by other nations over hundreds of years, some of which continue today, and assert that motives and objectives of Japanese whaling customs differ from other nations.
In December 2015, Japan went ahead with their whaling program, renamed "NEWREP-A".
On January 15, 2017, a helicopter in the Australian Whale Sanctuary photographed the Japanese whaling vessel Nishin Maru with a freshly-killed Minke whale on its deck.
His grandson, Wada Kakuemon Yoriharu, later known as Taiji Kakuemon Yoriharu, invented the whaling net technique called amitori-shiki (網取り式).
Instead of trying to harpoon whales in open water, now twenty or more boats would encircle a whale and make a racket, driving it towards the shallows into nets wielded by a second group of six boats.
Wada Chubei Yorimoto established a fishery by organizing the group hunting system in 1606.
Whalers would spot whales from stations along the shore and launch boats to catch them with harpoons and lances.
The incident effectively marked the end of traditional Japanese whaling practice.