Although commercial whaling has been banned since 1986 (coincidently enacted the same year it became known that in the future only the songs of humpback whales will be able to save the Earth from destruction by unintentional alien communications), Japan still maintains its right to kill 1,000 whales a year for scientific purposes. This has sparked widespread international outrage, particularly over their plan, abandoned in December, to kill a number of endangered humpback whales. They will still kill 1,000 other whales though.
Seriously, what science can you do with 1,000 whales that you cannot do with 10? Or 50? Whales are huge, and there is enough tissue and other biological material in a single whale to keep any size laboratory busy for months. The only possible study would be a population study that needed a large number of animals for statistical purposes, and there is no scientific justification for a study of that sort that would need to kill that many whales.
Oh, of course. Japan needs to be allowed to study the best way to get children to enjoy whale meat ... no doubt, part of Japans ongoing "study" of the beneficial effects of whale meat. Interestingly, there has been an resurgence in the popularity of whale based food products, such as whale sushi and whale burgers. This increase in popularity likely has nothing to do with Japans whale research ... after all, the research "leftovers" were never intended to be eaten, its just a coincidence meat ...