Minister waiting for response after vessel from whaling fleet enters economic zone.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says he is still waiting for a response from Japan after a vessel from its whaling fleet entered New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone against New Zealand wishes.

Mr McCully called Japan's ambassador in to meet with deputy secretary Gerard van Bohemen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday so New Zealand could register its unhappiness after the vessel trailed an anti-whaling Sea Shepherd boat into the EEZ last Friday.

Mr McCully said he was now waiting for a response from the Japanese government before he decided whether to take further action. "I've had a brief report from that meeting, it involved us stating our position and nothing of substance coming back from them yet."

He said he had an "open mind" about how he hoped Japan might respond. He expected further information overnight and would talk to officials about what other steps New Zealand could take. However, he ruled out inviting the ambassador to the Beehive to meet him saying it was appropriate to deal with it through Mr van Bohemen, who was also New Zealand's representative to the International Whaling Commission.


The Japanese embassy would not comment yesterday.

Labour's foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer said the Government had taken the right step by hauling in Japan's most senior diplomat.

He said Japan should provide some explanation for allowing the boat to enter New Zealand's EEZ.

"Considering the Japanese government knew the boat was going to enter our EEZ, it was provocative and disappointing. Japan knows our stance on whaling."

Prime Minister John Key said there were other options available if the Government was dissatisfied with Japan's response, but would not say what they were.

"I don't want to rush into those options today. We've made our displeasure quite clear. Let's see if it happens again."

He said New Zealand had greater authority and rights over its territorial waters within 12 nautical miles, but the vessel had stopped short of that line. The Sea Shepherd vessel was travelling to New Zealand to refuel, but there was no reason for the Japanese boat to enter other than because it was tracking the ship.

High seas drama
Last Thursday
* Japan informs New Zealand embassy in Tokyo the Shonan Maru 2 is following a protest boat and may enter New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles)

* NZ embassy tells Japan it does not want the whaling vessel to enter the EEZ

* Shonan Maru 2 enters the EEZ following the Sea Shepherd vessel the Steve Irwin. Does not enter territorial waters

* Ministry of Foreign Affairs tells Japanese embassy the actions were disrespectful

* McCully calls Japan's most senior diplomat in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lodge objection