Japan's plan to return to whaling just months after being told by an international court to stop is "worrying", Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Parliamentary Committee this week that he wanted his country to resume whaling "in order to obtain scientific information indispensable to the management of whale resources".

He said he would increase efforts to find understanding among the international community.
In April, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan had failed to prove that its annual slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean was for scientific purposes.

Mr McCully said it was not clear what Mr Abe was proposing in the short term, but his comments to the committee were "unfortunate and unhelpful".


"The decision of the ICJ laid down clear guidelines for any research whaling activities in the future. We welcomed Japan's statement that they would study and abide by the decision of the Court.

"As a country that places a high value on its good international citizenship, we hope and expect that Japan will continue to respect the ICJ decision."

At the time of the court's decision, Mr McCully warned that the issue was not settled.

The ruling related specifically to Japan's hunting of around 900 minke and fin whales for scientific purposes - known as Jarpa II - and Japan's government could reapply for a different permit.