Japan defends dolphin hunts after criticism from US

Fishermen in wetsuits seen hunt dolphins at a cove in Taiji, western Japan, on Monday. Credit: Reuters

Japan has defended its dolphin hunts after US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy said she was "deeply concerned" about the practice where local fisherman corral dolphins in a secluded bay before killing many for meat.

"I believe dolphin fishing is one of Japan's traditional fishing industries and is carried out appropriately in accordance to the law," said Japan's cabinet secretary Yoshihide Duga.

"Furthermore, dolphins are not within the management of the International Whaling Commission and it is left to the respective nations to manage this resource."

Taiji Whale Museum staff veterinarian Shinji Sakamoto added: "People are just thinking too emotionally about the dolphins. They want to protect them just because they're cute and clever."