WELLINGTON, New Zealand—New Zealand is supporting Australia's attempt in an international court to stop Japan from whaling in the Southern Ocean.

New Zealand wants to intervene in a lawsuit Australia brought against Japan two years ago in the International Court of Justice. New Zealand is seeking to have its views heard as an interested third party. Australia and Japan have until Dec. 21 to accept or challenge New Zealand's intervention.

Australia's lawsuit questions the validity of Japan's whaling program in the Southern Ocean. Japan describes its program as one of scientific study, but Australia and other countries have claimed it's commercial whaling in disguise.

New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully said in a statement Friday that the government will use all avenues possible to try and stop Japan from whaling.