Japan has failed to pass an early procedural vote at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Ulsan, South Korea, suggesting the body would remain dominated by the anti-whaling lobby as it has been for 23 years.
Pro-whaling nations led by Japan and Norway are hoping to be able to swing control of the 66-nation body for the first time since 1982.
A Japanese amendment to the agenda, seen as an indication of support for its stance in favour of ending a 19-year moratorium on commercial whaling, was defeated by 31 votes to 24 with two abstentions.
Japan has announced it is planning to more than double the number of whales it catches, in defiance of international pressure.
It says it wants to increase its annual take of Minke whales to around 900, and will also begin hunting smaller numbers of fin and humpback whales.
The plan has been submitted to the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in South Korea.
Yoshimasa Hayashi is a member of Japan's Upper House of Parliament and he says countries should recognise cultural differences.