Due to media self-censorship and indifference among the Japanese public on the issue, a "whalers' sanctuary" has been created inside Japanese society.
It protects a small number of bureaucrats, whalers and politicians so they can enjoy vested interests in whaling and keep their nationalistic stance. All at the expense of Japanese taxpayers.~ source
From what I have read the Japanese only had a mainstream practise of eating whales for about 15 years following the end of WWII.
I will try find some stats for that, but for almost all of Japans whaling history, whale meat was only consumed in a few isolated areas.
Whale consumption had dropped by a lot before the 1986 ban on commercial whaling, as alternative meats became available on the market. Whale was seen as a boring food, that was important previously because it had been available and cheap! Many Japanese people were happy to have had a full belly thanks to Japans whaling at a time when many were going hungry!
But times have changed now. The whales killed by Japan are killed to provide an elite few and their pets with a luxury dish designed to show their power and wealth. The meat is contaminated and often comes from illegal poaching from wildlife sanctuaries.
It has often been said that many people who oppose whaling are hypocritical for eating other animals. But the Japanese eat other animals as well. If they were as contaminated with mercury like cetaceans are perhaps they would not!
That said each citizen of Japan eats yearly on average around 70kg of fish.
"Last year, 5500 tons of whale meat was supplied to the Japanese market. This includes whale meat which does not get eaten and is simply thrown away because it didn't sell. Even if we generously assume all of the meat was in fact eaten, that is only about 46g of whale meat per person , as opposed to 5.6kg of beef, 12.1kg of pork, and 10.5kg of chicken."