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History and Purpose of Establishment


To contribute to the proper management and utilization of fishery resources by conducting research on cetaceans and other marine mammals, as well as studies on related international matters.


1941 Established as a private research institute, the Nakabe Foundation for Whale Science, to conduct research on whales and whaling.
1942 Became the Nakabe Institute of Science Foundation (Cabinet Planning Board, No. 1). Thereafter the institute was inactive due to suspension of whaling activities during World War II.
1946 In order to overcome the food shortage after the war, whaling in the Antarctic resumes with the approval of the GHQ. At the same time, plans are made to establish an institute specializing in research on whale resources.
1947 The Whales Research Institute (WRI) established (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Directive No. 22-4014), to emphasize the importance of whaling, improve the efficiency of fishing and whale catching, and the necessity of making full use of whale meat, to expand the research organization system, to conduct systematic and comprehensive research, and to apply the results to the public interest.
1959 Reorganized as the Whales Research Institute, Japan Whaling Association, producing thereafter many world-renowned researchers and actively contributing to whale research and management at the International Whaling Commission (IWC), making it one of the world’s leading whale research institutions. Ever since then, WRI researchers have moved to universities and other research institutes, contributing greatly to the development of cetacean biology and resource science in Japan and in the formation of successors.
1982 The International Whaling Commission (IWC) adopts a moratorium on commercial whaling.
1987 Establishment of the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) as a foundational judicial person (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Directive 62 Suikai No.3458). The Japanese Whale Research Program (JARPA) was initiated in the Antarctic Ocean, mainly to estimate the biological parameters of minke whales (MAFF Directive 62 Suikai 4144-46). Subsequently, JARPN was conducted in the western North Pacific.
2015 Transitioned to the Institute of Cetacean Research, a general incorporated foundation.
2017 Nominated as a Designated Corporation for Scientific Whale Research by the Fisheries Agency.
2019 Japan withdraws from the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and resumes commercial whaling in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Extension of the ICR’s nomination as Designated Corporation for Scientific Whale Research in accordance with the Act on the Sustainable Use of Whales. The Institute continues to promote the sustainable use of whale resources, through research and analysis of cetacean resources.

The Institute of Cetacean Research 30th Anniversary Memorial publication. Download (in Japanese)

1)Cover, Table of Contents, Foreword, Congratulatory Messages(1.4MB)
2)Activities of the Institute of Cetacean Research in Photographs (25.5MB)
3)History of the Institute (Organization, Facilities)(1.3MB)
4)History of the Institute (Cetacean Research, International Sighting Surveys) (1.8MB)
5)History of the Institute (Bycatch and Market Research, Stranding Research, Individual identification Research of Imported Whale Meat) (0.9MB)
6)History of the Institute (Response to International matters, Anti-whaling Countermeasures) (0.9MB)
7)History of the Institute (Domestic Study Group, Public Relations and Information, Publications) (1.0MB)
8)Historical Records (Chronological Table, Names of Past Officers and Staff, Organization Chart) (0.8MB)
9)Historical Records (Survey-related Data Tables) (0.9MB)
10)Historical Records (Achievements) (1.2MB)
11)Historical Records (Founding Prospectus, Articles of Endowment, Incorporation), Back Cover (1.1MB)

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