Japan is hunting whales again in the southern ocean, despite worldwide protest.
The International Court of Justice ruled last year that Japan should stop, and an International Whaling Commission (IWC) panel said in April the country needed to prove a need for killing whales.
Australia was not pleased with Japan’s move but said the dispute should not hurt business ties between the two countries.
“We have a special strategic partnership with Japan. And there are some issues we disagree on,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“Australia is very disappointed that Japan has resumed whaling in the Southern Ocean this year. We recognize that is a point of difference of opinion, but we will, as good friends should, we should be upfront and frank,” he added.
Whale meat is sold as food in Japan, though appetite for the delicacy has dropped in recent years.
The country aims to hunt nearly 4,000 of the mammals over the next 12 years as part of what it says is a scientific research programme. Countries including Australia have accused this programme of being a cover for commercial whaling.