Very interesting, I'm a native norwegian speaker with an interest in whaling history, and the minke theory jars with way whales have traditionally been named.
Generally, as you pointed out, the naming is practical and not derived from a person or event, thus right whale (Retthval) is the right one to catch, sperm whale has a head full of semen-like oil etc.
The story of the minke whale would make more sense if seen in this framework as in norwegian the word "minke" is a verb "to lessen or reduce" thus someone mistaking the lesser rorqual (vågehval, literally "daring whale" for it's impudent tendency to come into fjords within sight of the coastal whalers) for the right whale, which is a physically similar but much larger fin whale, might be ridiculed for how his whale had "shrunk"... The story is attributed to a diffuse member of Svend Foyn's crew, but this is roughly eqivalent to something being an Abe Lincoln quote, as Foyn was probably the most famous whaler that ever lived. (at least to the norwegians)
The choice of minke whale was one I came across during the 1992 "No Way Norway" Greenpeace anti-whaling campaign, where I raised the issue of nomenclature and the explanation was given that minke whale was a name that stuck more readily in people's minds and was more easily identifiable, containing the word "whale" and not the diminutive "lesser", also "minke" is cuter than "rorqual"
Mhe reason I say it is japanese is because afaik, (I don't speak japanese) minkku kujira is the official name in japanese.
So I may be wrong, but the idea is certainly not preposterous.