CANBERRA, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has urged Japan to re-consider its plan to resume whaling for commercial purposes.
Reports emerged on Thursday that Japan was preparing to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) so as to restart whaling.
Addressing such reports, Australian Environment Minister Melissa Price said while the government would "strongly prefer" that Japan remains a party to the IWC, the decision was "a matter for Japan."
"Australia remains committed to the IWC and acknowledges its crucial role as the pre-eminent international body responsible for the conservation of whales and the management of whaling," Price told reporters on Thursday night.
"We will continue to work through the Commission to conserve whales, and remain opposed to all forms of commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling."
The IWC in September denied Japan's latest request to resume commercial whaling.
The nation has continued to carry out whaling for research purposes but has argued that global populations have recovered to the point where the ban on commercial whaling should be lifted.
Tony Burke and Mark Dreyfus, the environment and legal affairs spokespersons for the opposition Australian Labor Party, urged the government to consider legal options if Japan withdraws from the IWC.
"Our bilateral relationship with Japan is one of our closest and most significant... This does not mean we will agree on all issues, and Labor has consistently campaigned against Japanese whaling," they said in a statement.