Environmentalists positioned a dead whale in front of the Japanese Embassy in the German capital on Thursday to protest against Japanese whale-hunting.

Greenpeace activists brought the 55-foot fin whale on a truck from the northern German coast and parked it in front of the embassy beside banners saying: "End senseless whaling."

Stefanie Werner, a Greenpeace official, said Japanese officials had refused to meet with the protesters.

The truck returned the whale later Thursday to Germany's Baltic Sea coast, where experts from a marine museum were to perform an autopsy to see why it had perished there earlier this week.

Japan insists that international regulations allow it to continue to hunt whales for what it says are scientific research programs, despite protests from countries including Australia, Brazil and many European nations.

Japanese whaling boats are expected to kill 935 minke whales in the first four months of this year.