Japan "says its 26-year-old research program is needed to monitor recovering whale populations in the Southern Ocean, but opponents call it a crude cover for continued commercial whaling," the New York Times reported. Crude indeed. By its own admission, Japan's hunt isn't really about research--or if it is, it's about research geared toward restarting commercial whaling, which has been outlawed since 1986 (for the record, Norway and Iceland openly defy that moratorium). It's hard to believe anybody could possibly believe that Japan needs to kill scores of whales--in the past, up to 950 minke, fin and humpback whales each year in the Southern Ocean, but presumably less in the future--to keep tabs on the animal's populations. But so goes the absurd argument.