(Adds comments by Japanese government spokesman)
WELLINGTON Feb 10 New Zealand summoned Japan's
ambassador on Monday to protest the entry of a Japanese whaling
ship into its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), after clashes
earlier between whalers and vessels from the Sea Shepherd
New Zealand had asked Japan last week to order its whalers
to steer clear of its maritime zone after vessels from both
sides had collided in international waters.
Regardless of the warning, one whaler, the Shonun Maru No.
2, breached New Zealand's EEZ, which ranges up to 200 nautical
miles offshore, as it shadowed a protest vessel, the Steve
Irwin, on its way to refuel at the southern port of Dunedin.
"The New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo last week made it very
clear we did not want members of the Japanese whaling fleet
entering our EEZ," McCully said in a statement. "Today's meeting
with the Ambassador served to further reiterate how deeply
disrespectful the vessel's entry into our EEZ was."
McCully said New Zealand was strongly opposed to Japanese
whaling in the southern oceans, and further action might be
Japan's government spokesman defended the whaling ship's
intrusion into the EEZ.
"We believe there was no problem with the movements of our
ships from the point of view of international law," said
Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief cabinet secretary.
"This ship was taking protective moves and intruded on the
EEZ as one part of that," he told a news conference.
Japan, which says that whaling is a cherished cultural
tradition, hunts whales under a scientific research provision in
the moratorium on whaling.
(Reporting by Gyles Beckford and Elaine Lies in TOKYO, editing
by Simon Cameron-Moore)