The loophole for hunting whales for research came with a 1986 regulation. Japan has been hunting whales for “scientific research” since the very beginning. They continue doing it even now.
Like pauleen said, since international regulations against whale hunting were put in place in 1986; so basically ever since the Japanese weren’t allowed to hunt whales openly for food anymore. The heading “scientific research” allows them to, yes, do scientific research on whales, but also to continue supplying Japanese markets with whale meat.
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