Japan will push for a resumption of commercial whaling, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu said ahead of an International Whaling Commission meeting on Tuesday.
"To gain the right to resume commercial whaling, what and how much can we give?" he told reporters in Tokyo before the closed-door talks between lower level officials in Florida. "We will continue our patient negotiations."
In 1986, the IWC slapped a moratorium on commercial whaling, but Japan uses a loophole that allows lethal "scientific research" for its annual Antarctic hunts, while Norway and Iceland defy the ban entirely.
The three nations have since killed more than 30,000 whales.
|File photo shows a mother whale and her calf being dragged on board a Japanese whaling ship after being harpooned in Antarctic waters|
The Florida talks come ahead of the annual IWC meeting in June, when nations will discuss a proposal by the commission's chair to give the green light to whaling but with the goal of gradually reducing the total catch.
"In the end, I will go to the IWC meeting (in June) and voice Japan's position and make sure it will bear fruit," Akamatsu told reporters.
Japan makes no secret of the fact that the meat of whales it kills is sold in restaurants and shops, and maintains that whaling is an important and centuries-old tradition for the island-nation.
Japan's annual whale hunts, bitterly opposed by environmental campaigners at sea every year, have also angered anti-whaling nations such as New Zealand and Australia which has threatened legal action against Japan.