Nevertheless, Japan continued its research, gathering data it believed would be useful for determining quotas when it reverted to commercial whaling at a future point.
Why does Japan want to hunt whales? After years of disputes, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in December that it meant to leave the organisation, claiming that it was not fulfilling its mandate to find a balance between preserving the whale population but also allowing a sustainable whaling industry.
Five ships from whaling communities around the country left port in northern Japan's Kushiro with their horns blaring and grey tarps are thrown over their harpoons.
Nisshin-Maru, the primary vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet which is set to join the resumption of commercial whaling, departue at a port in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, July 1, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo.
The town is also known for dolphin hunts because of the documentary film The Cove.
Activists said the hunts had no scientific value, and Japan made no secret of the fact that meat from whales caught on those hunts ended up sold for consumption.
Modern hunting methods, though, aim to kill whales instantly and it backers say the near-global anti-whaling sentiment is deeply hypocritical., compared to, say, industrial meat production.
The government, however, plans to provide as much as 5 billion yen ($46 million) for projects to help stabilize commercial whaling, including development of rich whale hunting grounds and research and development in the first few years, officials said.
He said he hoped whale meat would be reasonably priced so that it will gain popularity in the long term instead of becoming an expensive delicacy for a limited clientele.
The country has long said that only a few species of whales are endangered and industry supporters, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have campaigned to resume whaling, Reuters reported. This was voted down - the proposal that was approved in its place supported a shift in the commission's goal towards banning all commercial whaling in perpetuity.
"I don't think young people know how to cook and eat whale meat anymore".
Ultimately, the resumption of traditional whaling may end up saving large government subsidies and the lives of many whales, experts say.
"This is a face-saving way out of whaling, the beginning of the end of Japanese whaling", he said at a recent press conference.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, minke and Bryde's whale are not endangered.
One of the whales, more than eight metres (27 feet) long, was hoisted from a ship onto a truck and driven to a warehouse.
"I am proud and joyful the ceremony for the ships that are resuming commercial whaling after 30 years is being held in Shimonoseki", Maeda said.
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"Abandoning its decades-long charade of harpooning whales under the guise of science, it has revealed a awful truth - that these gentle ocean giants are being slaughtered for no legitimate reason at all", Block said.