Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has criticised Tony Abbott for developing "amnesia" and failing to raise whaling during talks with his Japanese counterpart.
Before the federal election the prime minister "talked tough" about his opposition to whaling by Japanese vessels in the Southern Ocean, Mr Shorten said.
"The prime minister was going to be the whales' best friend," he told reporters on Thursday.
"It is not good enough for the Abbott government to be engaged in a chase for votes before the election and develop amnesia when you're talking to the Japanese prime minister after the election."
Mr Abbott met with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday where talks focused on forging a free trade agreement between the two countries.
The issue was also not raised when the two men met at the ASEAN summit in October.
"I take the issue of whaling very seriously but the Japanese well know our position on this and I want to focus today on issues where we can make progress," Mr Abbott said on Wednesday.
Judgment is still pending on Australia's challenge to Japan's whaling in the International Court of Justice.
The coalition government is monitoring whaling operations by sending aircraft to the area, but Mr Shorten said the pre-election promise to send a ship to the ocean should be upheld.