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TOKYO — The fishing town of Taiji will not stop its dolphin hunts, the mayor said Thursday, after Japan’s aquariums decided to stop buying captured dolphins under international pressure sparked by cruelty concerns.

‘‘We are hunting under the permission of the Japanese government and prefecture, and so we will continue to protect our fishermen and the methods. We will not quit,’’ said Kazutaka Sangen, mayor of the small town in central Japan.

Eating dolphin and whale meat is waning in Japan as people’s tastes change, but some Japanese see it as no different from eating chicken or beef.

They are puzzled by how the international view on dolphin and whale hunting is so different from that of traditional fishing communities such as Taiji.


On Wednesday, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums said it would stop buying Taiji dolphins.

It had risked being suspended by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which characterized the Taiji hunt as ‘‘cruel’’ and decided that none of its members should acquire dolphins in such a way.

Associated Press