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New Zealand rebukes Japan over whaling ship incursion

Japanese government 'ignored request' to steer ship clear of maritime economic zone

New Zealand sharply criticised Japan on Monday for allowing a whaling ship to enter its maritime economic zone.

The government said Japan had ignored requests that the Shonan Maru 2 steer clear of New Zealand’s 230-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as the whaler pursued an anti-whaling vessel operated by protest group Sea Shepherd.

Japan said any ship was allowed to enter an exclusive economic zone and it had been necessary to protect Japanese whalers from the activists’ protest.

New Zealander Foreign Minister Murray McCully said Japan’s latest actions were “unhelpful, disrespectful and short-sighted” and that ambassador Yasuaki Nogawa had been summoned to meet a senior official who expressed New Zealand’s “deep disappointment.”

“The New Zealand embassy in Tokyo had made it very clear we did not want the Japanese whaling fleet entering our EEZ,” Mr McCully said.

“New Zealand’s strong opposition to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean is well known and further action may be taken.”

Japan government spokesman Yoshihide Suga insisted the ship’s entry into the EEZ was “part of necessary safety measures.”

A spokesman for the Institute of Cetacean Research, which is funded by the Japanese government, said every vessel had a right to enter another country’s economic waters and New Zealand’s request for the boat to stay away was not legally enforceable.

He said the Shonan Maru 2 was monitoring the Sea Shepherd boat Steve Irwin.

“It’s important to know exactly where the Sea Shepherd pirate vessels are at all times,” Mr Inwood said.

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