Japan is spending 2.3 billion yen (£18.8 million) from its supplementary budget for tsunami reconstruction to fund the country's annual whaling hunt in the Antarctic Ocean.
A fisheries official defended the funding because it helps support Japan's whaling industry as a whole, and parts of the devastated coastal areas are involved in whaling. One ship on the hunt is based in Ishinomaki, a town hit badly by the March 11 tsunami, he said.
Conservationist group Greenpeace blasted the move, saying it was siphoning money away from disaster victims.
Earlier this week, Japan's annual whaling expedition left for the southern seas. In recent years, the hunts have faced aggressive interference by activists in boats from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.