• Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Foreign Minister Don McKinnon reinforced New Zealand's strong opposition to Japan's "scientific whaling" programme in recent talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Ikeda.

"I told Minister Ikeda at our meeting at APEC how strongly the people of New Zealand feel about the protection of whales. I urged the Japanese government to reconsider its decision to continue its whaling programme in the southern ocean sanctuary this year", Mr McKinnon said.

Mr McKinnon was responding to reports that Japan's whaling fleet has left Hiroshima for the southern ocean, with the intention of killing up to 440 minke whales for scientific research over the next five months.

"I regret Japan's decision to ignore the strong call by the International Whaling Commission to abandon its "scientific whaling" programme and instead adopt non-lethal research methods. Japan is also acting in disregard for the overwhelming international support for the southern ocean sanctuary, established in 1994", Mr McKinnon said.

"New Zealand and Japan enjoy a close and cooperative relationship. While our views on whaling differ, I am pleased that this relationship allows for a frank discussion on an issue of great concern to New Zealand", Mr McKinnon concluded.