Diplomatic Bluebook 2001


D. Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships

1. The Piracy Problem

In recent years, the number of reported piratical incidents has been rising at an alarming rate, and grew by more than 400 percent from 107 incidents in 1991 to 469 incidents in 2000.*3 This increase in piracy has been particularly conspicuous in Southeast Asian sea areas. In fact, more than half of all incidents reported during 2000 (242 out of 469 incidents) occurred in the Southeast Asian region. Meanwhile, the number of armed piratical incidents where guns or knives are used is also increasing year by year. There are cases where vessels are hijacked, and the pirates and/or armed robbers then sell off their cargoes and the vessels themselves. In February, the Japan-related vessel MV Global Mars was hijacked by pirates in Southeast Asian waters.

Because such hijacked vessels must be quickly disguised and their seized cargoes promptly sold off, and because these piratical activities are taking place in the ocean areas of numerous countries, it is suspected that large-scale transnational crime syndicates are responsible for these crimes.

a) Japan's Cooperation

Given the frequent occurrence of piratical incidents and the increasingly severe damages suffered, piracy and armed robbery against ships have not only become a major threat to shipping routes for Japan, which depends on imports for the vast majority of its oil and other energy supplies and which has developed its economy as a trading country, but also threatens the stability and economic development of the Asian region and the entire world. In addition to actively participating in cooperative international efforts to resolve the piratical problem through the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ASEAN, and ARF, Japan has also launched its own initiatives in international cooperation in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships.

Based on a proposal offered by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at the November 1999 Japan-ASEAN Summit, Japan held the Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Tokyo in April in which 17 countries and regions participated. In this Conference, the following three documents were adopted. In a statement entitled "Asia Anti-Piracy Challenges 2000," the coast guard authorities expressed their intention to reinforce mutual cooperation in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships. A statement entitled the "Tokyo Appeal" calls for the establishment of contact points for information exchange among relevant authorities as well as for the drafting of a national action plan for combating piracy and armed robbery against ships, including the enhancement of self-defense capability of private ships. Finally, the Model Action Plan states specific countermeasures based on the Tokyo Appeal.

In September, Japan dispatched missions to the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia in order to consult with the governments of these four countries about the implementation of specific cooperation measures in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships. In November, a patrol vessel of the Japan Coast Guard visited India and Malaysia, and conducted combined exercises in both countries. Also, in November, Japan participated in the Regional Experts Meeting on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, which was held in Malaysia.

Japan will continue to strengthen its ties and cooperation with concerned countries, and to actively provide these countries with the requisite technical assistance and assistance for human resources development in order to eliminate piracy and armed robbery against ships.


  1. All figures in this paragraph are from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre, Report for the period from 1 January to 31 March 2001.

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