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Clark Dismisses Japanese Reaction

Clark Dismisses Japanese Reaction

Prime Minister Helen Clark upped the diplomatic stakes yesterday when she said Japan’s criticism of her anti-whaling stance came “... from well down the pecking order.”

Miss Clark said she would be more concerned about the possible impact on Japanese-New Zealand trade relations if the comments had come from her Japanese counterpart rather than Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tokuichiro Tamazawa.

Japan is New Zealand’s third biggest trading partner to which we export $2.8 Billion worth of goods every year.

The Prime Minister’s statement yesterday escalated the diplomatic row between the Japanese government which began when Helen Clark said that she supported a moratorium on Japan’s killing of minke whales at a Greenpeace meeting.

She also said that it was well known the whales caught in Japan’s scientific whaling programme were sold on the commercial market.

In response the Minister Tamazawa wrote a strongly worded letter to his counterpart Phill Goff saying that he doubted “the prudence of a prime minister of a country who publicly expresses support for Greenpeace, an international body known for forcing its tenets on others by means of violent actions.”

Miss Clark hit back at Mr Tamazawa during her post cabinet Press Conference saying she “..advised him to get his facts right…” and “…that Greenpeace was not an organisation dedicated to violent protest.”

She concluded by saying that she would “ignore the jibes” of Tamazawa and concentrate “on the substance of the issue.”

However the a spokesperson from the Economic Institute said yesterday that a row was unlikely to affect the relationship which was built on longstanding contacts and mutual benefit.

Radio New Zealand’s Japanese correspondent told Kim Hill on Tuesday that the Japanese public are reported to be not very interested in the issue of whaling. Whale meat is very expensive in Japan not eaten very often.

The spokesperson said the Japanese government was interesting in protecting it right to whale so as not to loose other important fishing stocks like blue fish tuna.

Greenpeace are currently protesting Japan’s minke whaling in the southern ocean – Japan is set to kill over 400 whales for scientific purposes this year.

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