I quote the article directly here;
I think I may have written on this issue before, but its actually incredible that when you begin to investigate behind the rhetoric, the Japanese arguments for whale meat being an integral part of 'being Japanese' start to waver and then crumble. The Ashai Shibun, a respected Japanese newspaper, earlier this month tackled this very issue.
‘Hiroyuki Watanabe, a researcher of environmental sociology at Kyoto University, said the practice of eating whale meat began to spread across Japan around 1900, following the introduction of the Norwegian-style whaling method using harpoon guns.
The new whaling technique triggered strong opposition in some parts of Japan.
In 1911, up to 1,000 fishermen in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, staged a demonstration against a whaling company because they considered whales sacred creatures.
Similar protests took place in Chiba and Ishikawa prefectures.
Despite government support for the whaling industry, whale meat accounted for only 10-20 percent of Japan's total meat supply in the 1930s.
Eating whale meat became more common during the U.S.-led occupation of Japan after World War II when whaling in the Antarctic Ocean gained the approval of the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers.
Between 1946 and 1965, whale meat accounted for 23-46 percent of Japan's meat supply. But after that, whaling restrictions caused the supply to shrink, and the meat was replaced by chicken and pork.
Watanabe said eating whale meat became common during limited periods in certain parts of the country.
"(Eating whale meat) is a dietary habit developed in part because of government policy," Watanabe said.’
The full article can be found at the Ashai Shimbun
Again it would seem that its Japanese Government policy to maintain whaling and not any will of the people of Japan. Its a similar story in Norway, where fishermen once chased whalers out of their communities because they thought that whaling would destroy their fish stocks, and the quotas for whaling are decided by parliament as a finger up to the world!