Foreign Minister Murray McCully has told his Japanese counterpart that he is hopeful Japan will be open to resuming talks with New Zealand to find a diplomatic solution to whaling - despite New Zealand's decision to take part in Australia's International Court of Justice case to try to force Japan to stop whaling.
Mr McCully met Fumio Kishida, Tokyo's new Foreign Minister, in Auckland yesterday. The joint statement afterwards was silent on whaling, but Mr McCully said he had raised the issue with Mr Kishida.
New Zealand is formally joining Australia's case against Japan's whaling programme at the end of this month and will be represented by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, in his first case as a Queen's Counsel.
Mr McCully said New Zealand and Japan were open about having different positions on whaling.
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But he had expressed his hope that the two countries could resume a diplomatic discussion.
"We want to find a way forward. We need to keep the door open for diplomacy. We agreed we would continue to deal with those differences respectfully and professionally, as we always had."
He said a proposed protected area in the Ross Sea - in which both Japan and New Zealand have fishing interests - was also discussed.
Talks also included the Trans Pacific Partnership, which Tokyo has recently joined negotiations over.
Mr McCully said Japan was now more outward looking and that would stimulate the two countries' economic relationship and flow over into other areas, such as tourism and education.