1,816 tons of meat accounts for about 40 percent of the country’s annual consumption, The Japan Times reported. The ship left Iceland with the cargo three months earlier, according to Newsweek.
The Winter Bay is initially a Norwegian vessel flying the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis, a so-called “flag of convenience”, allowing fewer regulations and taxes.
Over 1 million people signed a petition demanding that the ship removes the flag on the activist website Avaaz.
The fin whale has been declared endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Japan is one of its members.
Greenpeace has also stated that Japan uses another way of receiving the whale meat – the Arctic Northeast Passage, according to The Japan Times. The organization fiercely protested the vessel arrival in Japan, saying the catch amounted to 137 whales hunted down in Iceland last year.
The Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) makes it illegal to transport the whale meat, however, the rule doesn’t apply to Iceland, Norway, and Japan.
In March, the International court of Justice ordered Japan to stop hunting whales which the country does for alleged “scientific research”. Despite the ban, in June, Japan’s chief whaling negotiator Joji Morishita announced that the country would continue the hunting, but via the Antarctic – a plan deemed unconvincing by the International Whaling Commission scientific committee.