Threatened with international legal action, Japan has again defended its whaling activities and urged a negotiated solution to a growing row with Australia.
The government in Canberra has told Tokyo that unless it stops whaling in the Southern Ocean by November, it will be taken to court.
While commercial whaling is banned, Japan
continues to cull under a loophole, insisting it is for scientific research.
Japanese government spokesman Hirofumi Hirano said: “Research whaling does not infringe the international accords and it is conducted according to the agreements. Instead of solving the matter by taking legal action, it is very important to reach an understanding on the diplomatic side.”
But, facing an election this year, Australia’s Prime Minister has had enough.
Kevin Rudd said: “We are working it through with the Japanese but if they don’t come to this agreement to reduce to zero, we will initiate that action.”
Clashes between whalers and radical environmental activists have become an annual feature of the hunt in Antarctic waters. Last month, a Japanese vessel was accused of intentionally ramming and sinking a hi-tech protest boat.