Prime Minister John Key said it would be good to get an apology from Japan for one of its whaling fleet entering New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone, but he doesn't know if he will get one.

Mr Key made his comments talking to reporters at Parliament this morning.

"I don't know that we'll get an apology," he said initially.

"We will see what happens from here and what other things occur but whether there's an apology, let's wait and see?"


Asked if he would like an apology, he said: "That would be good."

"We had earlier on made it quite clear our view about the Japanese ship coming into New Zealand's economic zone."

Mr Key said Foreign Minister Murray McCully had made it clear how unhappy he was.

"The steps New Zealand had taken were unusual."

Japan's ambassador in Wellington, Yasuaki Nogawa, was called in yesterday to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade where deputy secretary Gerard van Bohemen registered New Zealand's unhappiness that the Shonan Maru 2 chased protest vessel Steve Irwin into the Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) last Friday.

Japan alerted New Zealand on Thursday it might enter the EEZ in pursuit of the anti-whaling protesters and New Zealand first registered its disapproval then.

Mr McCully said yesterday the meeting with the ambassador was to reiterate "how deeply disrespectful the vessel's entry into our EEZ was".

This morning he suggested that neither Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida nor his ministry had played any part in the decision to enter the EEZ.

He said New Zealand had worked hard on maintaining a good relationship with Japan's foreign ministry and foreign minister.

"I am reluctant to believe that they would have been too close to the decision that was made."

Mr McCully said Japan's Fisheries Agency which had always been a significant player in Japan's administration "make their own foreign policy decisions".

Meanwhile Labour leader and former diplomat David Cunliffe today criticised the level at which New Zealand had registered its disapproval.

"I think is a matter where the seriousness of the issue warrants the ambassador being called in at ministerial level not at officials level."

He supported calls for an apology from Japan.