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TOKYO, Japan (May 5, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Japan wants to resume hunting the giant toothed whales made famous in the novel Moby Dick.

Radio Australia correspondent Peter Martin reports that the capture of so-called Sperm whales has been illegal since 1986.

"The International Whaling Commission allows an exemption from its worldwide ban for the purpose of scientific research. Japan last year obtained permission to kill 500 Minke whales in the name of science. Their remains were later sold in fish markets for an estimated AUS$ 80 million (US$ 47.2 million).

"Japan has asked the Commission for permission to allow it to also hunt the much bigger Sperm and Bryde's whales for the next two years, raising the prospect that Sperm and Bryde's whale meat will return to Japanese markets for the first time in fifteen years.

"Peter Martin, Tokyo."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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