The government's under fire on several fronts over its handling of the Peter Bethune situation.
The anti-whaling protester is facing a long stretch in a Japanese jail with five charges being laid against him after he boarded a whaling ship in February. The most serious charge is causing bodily injury.
Labour is calling on the government to do more to help whaling protestor.
Labour's Foreign Affairs spokesman Chris Carter says that the situation is a total overreaction by the Japanese, and that the charges Bethune faces are very serious for what was a relatively minor offence.
He says the government should be showing more interest in the fate of a New Zealander who is being made into a scapegoat.
But Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says there is not much the government can do to interfere in Japan's legal system.
Japanese prosecutors will formally indict Bethune for trespass; carrying a knife (which prosecutors will say was found in his boot); damaging property (for cutting a guard net to board the vessel) and forcible obstruction of business despite the activities being for non-commercial "scientific whaling".
But most serious is the charge of causing injury which comes with a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
The charge relates to an incident three days before the powerboat Ady Gil and the whaler collided . Japan's coastguard alleges Bethune fired a rancid butter stink bomb which injured a crewman.
McCully says maritime officials are undertaking a thorough investigation and he says he will be very concerned at any unduly harsh charges laid against Bethune.
McCully says he is uneasy about the reports and the New Zealand government is yet to receive confirmation of the charges laid by Japanese authorities. He says Bethune is yet to appear in court and he is still waiting for confirmation from authorities as to the nature of the charges he is facing.
Sea Shepherd's Bill Watson says it is shameful the Japanese are prosecuting Bethune for things he just did not do.
He says the New Zealand government has been equally shameful for not backing a citizen who has basically become a political prisoner.