Australia on collision course with Japanese whalers
The Federal Government has announced it will launch legal action against Japan's whaling program in the International Court of Justice next week, but Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith says he doesn't think the move will hurt the relationship between the two countries.
Formal proceedings against Japan's Southern Ocean whale hunt will be lodged in The Hague ahead of an International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Morocco in June.
Mr Smith informed Japan of the decision last night, after it was approved by Federal Cabinet yesterday afternoon.
He says he is confident the legal action will not affect Australia's bilateral relationship with its major trading partner.
"The agreement between Australia and Japan is that we will treat this matter in a calm, responsible and mature way," he said.
Federal Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett joined Mr Smith for the announcement and said Japan's so-called scientific whaling program must end.
"We want to see an end to whales being killed in the name of science in the Southern Ocean," Mr Garrett said.
Mr Garrett was also confident the legal action would not affect Australia's bilateral relationship with Japan.
"It's a disagreement between friends, but it is a disagreement which we now believe needs to be properly resolved in the appropriate forum," he said.
"In the run up to the IWC my expectation is that that will be an extremely intense and difficult negotiation, but it's clear to us that this was the appropriate time to lodge that action."
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's pledge to take Japan to the international court was a key plank of Labor's federal election platform in 2007.