Japanese whaling ships set sail yesterday to hunt for minke, Bryde’s, and sperm whales. Whaling ships earlier this year brought home 440 minke whales, but the second hunt will be more controversial because Bryde’s and sperm whales are thought to be more endangered. When a similar hunt occurred last year the Clinton administration threatened Japan with trade sanctions. Japan claims the hunts are for scientific purposes only and should therefore be permitted by the International Whaling Commission. But much of the whale meat ends up in restaurants, and enviros and some foreign governments believe that the whale research is merely a front for commercial whaling.