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John Key makes anti-whaling stance clear to Japanese PM

Monday 7 Jul 2014 5:36 p.m.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Auckland and Christchurch today and indicated Japan will resume whaling in the Southern Ocean.

But Prime Minister John Key sent a clear message that New Zealand won't accept that.

Mr Abe was here to talk trade, but as the two leaders sat down there was an elephant in the room the size of a whale.

"The Prime Minister did make it clear they are looking at what sort of whaling programme in theory could be conducted that fits within the rules," says Mr Key.

Japan announced last month it intended to resume scientific whaling after the International Court of Justice ruled in March its whale hunt in the Southern Ocean was illegal.

And Mr Abe did a sidestep when asked about that.

"We will abide by the verdict of the International Court of Justice, but in any case there are different positions in regard to whaling," says Mr Abe.

Mr Key faces a minefield here; on one hand he is of course in support of free trade, which the Japanese are here to talk about. On the other he is under enormous public pressure to send a clear message about whaling.

"New Zealand's view is there is no place for whaling, scientific or otherwise," he says.

Mr Abe wrapped up his day-long tour by laying a wreath for the 28 Japanese citizens who lost their lives at the CTV building in the Canterbury earthquake.

He is now off to Australia, who took the whaling case against Japan, where he will face more pressure to give up the hunt altogether.

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