Despite being good friends, Australia must be “upfront” with Japan about its disappointment with the decision to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.
Mr Turnbull will express Australia’s concern when he sits down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a whirlwind trip to Tokyo on Friday.
“We recognise that is a point of difference of opinion but we will, as good friends should … be upfront and frank about our differences of opinion, put them on the table and deal with them, seek to resolve them,” he told reporters in Tokyo.
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek challenged Mr Turnbull to tell the Japanese, unequivocally, that Australia opposed the resumption of whaling and was considering whether further legal action is required to enforce the international ban on commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean.
She flagged there was potential scope to take legal action at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
“It is up to the government and up to the prime minister in the first instance to express to the government of Japan just how disappointed we are with this resumption of whaling,” she told reporters in Sydney.
Japan has been chosen for Mr Turnbull’s first North Asia trip because it is Australia’s second largest trading partner and one of the most innovative countries in the world.
The Prime Minister has made the ‘ideas boom’ central to his economic plan.
The first event will be a visit to the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation where the prime minister will interact with the world’s most advanced humanoid robot ASIMO.
He will also tour the museum with its director, Japanese astronaut Dr Mamoru Mohri and astrophysicist Professor Brian Schmidt.
A round table with leading researchers in innovation and Australian university vice-chancellors will be followed by the signing of a new deal with Japan on regenerative medicine research.
Regenerative medicine includes treatments around stem cells and gene therapy intended to restore the function of damaged organs and tissues.
The market in Japan for regenerative medicines is projected to grow to more than $17 billion by 2030, according to the Japanese government.
The issue of Japan’s bid to build Australia’s next generation of submarines will also be discussed.
Mr Turnbull will deliver an address to a business leaders’ lunch and launch an Iron Chef-style Australian food competition.