Dec 18, 2015 12:38 AM

Australia leader disappointed with Japan's return to whaling

The Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) Australia's leader said Friday that his country is "very disappointed" with Japan's decision to resume whaling in Antarctic waters earlier this month.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on his first visit to Japan since taking the helm in September, wants to strengthen Australia-Japan ties but also faces pressure at home to confront Japan on the whaling issue.

"Australia is very disappointed that Japan has resumed whaling in the Southern Ocean this year," he told reporters in Tokyo. "We will, as good friends should, be upfront and frank about our differences of opinion."

Japan stopped whaling last year after an international court ruled against its program, which is ostensibly for scientific research.

Since then, Japan has revised its Antarctic whaling program to reduce the maximum catch to 333 minke whales, about one-third of its previous quota. A fleet of whaling ships set out at the beginning of this month for a scaled-down, three-month hunt.

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