Australia 'disappointed' at Japan whaling - Turnbull

2015-12-18 11:58

(Kate Davison, AP, Greenpeace)

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Tokyo - Australia is "very disappointed" at Japan's decision to resume whaling in the Antarctic Ocean, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday as he readied for talks with Japanese premier Shinzo Abe.

The whaling fleet set sail this month for the Antarctic after a one-year pause, sparking a formal protest from 33 countries, led by Australia and New Zealand.

"Australia is very disappointed that Japan has resumed whaling in the Southern Ocean this year," Turnbull said in Tokyo according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

While Turnbull's first visit to key ally Japan on Friday will cover a broad range of topics, including defence cooperation and trade, the controversial whale hunt is also on the agenda.

"We recognise that is a point of difference of opinion", Turnbull said.

Reiterating his pledge to raise whaling in talks with Abe, he added that as "good friends" the two sides "should be upfront and frank about our differences of opinion, put them on the table and deal with them, seek to resolve them".

He was careful, however, to emphasise that the differences on whaling won't damage overall ties.

"If we can't resolve them then we will obviously keep talking but we shouldn't allow it to erode the good will in the rest of the relationship," he added.

Tokyo said last month it planned to kill 333 minke whales for scientific research this season in spite of a worldwide moratorium and widespread opposition.

The fleet's departure marked the end of a year-long hunting suspension prompted by a United Nations' International Court of Justice ruling in 2014 that the annual hunt was a commercial venture masquerading as research.

Japan sent a fleet to the region last year but it did not hunt any whales.

Australia took Japan before the court in 2010 to try to end the annual hunts, decried by environmentalists but defended by Japan as an integral part of its traditional food culture even though the consumption of whale meat is miniscule.

Read more on:    malcolm turnbull  |  australia  |  japan  |  marine life

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