Japan says it will complain to Australia about its release of graphic photographs of whales being killed by a Japanese fleet in Antarctic waters.
Japanese Agricultural Minister Masatoshi Wakabayashi says Japan will express its "regret" over the release of the photographs, and urge Australia to calmly handle the issue.
Australia says the pictures show a whale and her calf being dragged onto a Japanese ship after being harpooned. Officials there have described the images as "sickening and sad."
Japan argues that international whaling conventions allow it to catch a specific quota of whales each year for scientific research. Meat from the catch is sold commercially, but Japanese officials deny profit is a goal.
In a newly released public opinion poll Friday in Japan, 65 percent of Japanese say they support the whaling program. More than half of those surveyed say they agree that whales can be used for food.Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.