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Friday, July 4

Whaling must be top of agenda for Japan PM visit

New Zealand must make protecting whales a priority during next week’s visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Green Party oceans spokesperson Gareth Hughes said today.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will make an official visit to New Zealand next week after recently outlining an intention to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling.

“New Zealand needs to exert diplomatic pressure on the Japanese Government over whaling during Prime Minister Abe’s visit to New Zealand,” Mr Hughes said.

“As one of the countries that took Japan to the International Court of Justice over whaling, and won, we must keep up the pressure on Japan to turn its back on slaughtering whales in the Southern Ocean.

“New Zealanders want to see a strong message sent to Prime Minister Abe that hunting whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is unacceptable and unlawful.

“While Prime Minister John Key will be no doubt be fixated upon the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement he must also make sure that New Zealand’s opposition to whaling is a priority area during Prime Minister Abe’s visit.

“The Prime Minister must not let his desire to conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement trump New Zealand’s long standing opposition to Japan’s unlawful ‘scientific whaling’ program.

“John Key’s recent visit to the United States showed how his position on important international foreign policy issues can be ‘gone by lunchtime’ after meet and greets with President Obama.

“There must be no such flip flopping during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit.

“The Prime Minister and New Zealand officials need to make it clear to Japan that any move to resume whaling under the pretext of scientific purposes will not be tolerated by our government.”