"No humane methods exist to hunt whales, and it is impossible to justify such crude and indifferent reliance on the exploding harpoon and other instruments that inflict massive pain before death."
Tokyo's determination to defend an industry with little economic significance to Japan puzzles outside observers. They attribute it to a small caucus of politicians who have turned the issue into one of "culinary imperialism," in which Japan is defiantly asserting that it will not be told what to eat, any more than Australians should be told not to eat kangaroo.
Still others attribute the campaign to a fisheries bureaucracy that doesn't know how to surrender on an issue that has motivated it for so long.
Japan's Foreign Ministry strikes a less hawkish tone, acknowledging that there is little domestic political pressure on the government to save the whaling industry.
"We don't think many Japanese companies are interested any longer in resuming commercial whaling," said Tomohiko Taniguchi, a spokesman for the ministry.
"Nor are we making an argument that this is part of our culture.
"Look," he said, "this is not something that could start the Third World War. This is not an industry on which the Japanese economy hinges. It is not Toyota."
Wallace reported from Tokyo and Williams from Miami.