The Issue of Piracy in Asia
(Present State of Affairs)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The rash of piratical incidents which has recently affected the Asian region has not only threatened the transportation routes of Japan, which is a major trading nation, but also has the potential to negatively effect the social stability and economic prosperity of the region as a whole. Based on such an awareness of this issue, at the ASEAN + 1 (Japan) Summit Meeting which took place in Manila in November 1999, then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi proposed holding a conference made up of representatives from coast guard agencies and others, and accordingly, the Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships was held in Tokyo in April 2000.
As proposed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yohei Kono, the Japanese Government dispatched the Mission for Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships to the Republic of the Philippines, Malaysia, the Republic of Singapore, and the Republic of Indonesia in September 2000, where surveys and exchanges of opinions were conducted regarding specific cooperation and support measures in each country. In November 2000, a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel visited India and Malaysia and implemented joint training to combat piracy. In such ways, bilateral cooperation is being steadily developed.
At the same time, as this is an issue directly related to the sovereignty of each country, it will not be an easy task to construct a framework for regional efforts. However, based on the need to actively display Japan's initiative in this regard, at the ASEAN + 3 (Japan, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea) Summit which took place in Singapore in November 2000, Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori called upon the other countries to support the holding of the Asian Cooperation Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships.
Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships
27-28 April 2000
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transport (currently Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport), Japan Coast Guard
Heads of coast guard agencies from 16 countries and 1 region, including the ten ASEAN countries, India, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the People's Republic of Bangladesh, the Republic of Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Japan (equivalent to the Commandant of the Japan Coast Guard), as well as maritime policy authorities (equivalent to the Director-General of the Maritime Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport), representatives from International Maritime Organizations (IMO) and representatives from ship owners' associations from each country.
Summary of the conference:
At the start of the conference, Prime Minister Mori and then Senior State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tetsuma Esaki delivered welcoming remarks, in which they expressed their strong desire for the establishment of a cooperative structure among the countries involved, as well as the intention of Japan, a country which would benefit greatly from security in the waters surrounding Southeast Asia, to support and cooperate on such a framework to the fullest extent.
The session for maritime policy authorities and representatives from ship owners' associations from each country adopted the "Tokyo Appeal" and the "Model Action Plan for Maritime Policy Authorities and Private Maritime Related Concerns to Combat Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships," which called for the enhancement of self-protection measures on ships, thorough reporting to relevant authorities, the strengthening of cooperation among organizations within the governments of each country, the establishment of an international intelligence network, and the promotion of the analysis of information.
The session for heads of regional coast guard agencies, adopted the "Asia Anti-Piracy Challenges 2000," which affirms the importance of each country cracking down on piracy and armed robbery against ships, and enhancing cooperation among the relevant institutions of each country.
Outcome of the conference:
This was the first international gathering of the heads of regional coast guard agencies, maritime policy authorities and representatives from ship owners' associations from Asian countries and the Asian region. The participants shared the recognition that, because the issue of piracy is one that greatly affects the stability and prosperity of the entire region, cooperation among all countries will be essential, and took the first step towards regional cooperation on anti-piracy measures.
Mission for Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships Outline:
In order to follow up on the Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships held in April 2000, a Government survey team, comprised of members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Transport, the Japan Coast Guard, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), was dispatched to the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia from 19-26 September 2000.
Details of cooperation with other countries:
(1) Exchange of opinions regarding procedures for regional cooperation on future anti-piracy measures
(2) Exchange of opinions regarding follow-up to the Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships
(3) Presentation of Japan's cooperation and aid measures, listening to the views of other countries:
- Mutual visits of patrol vessels and joint training; The Japan Coast Guard sent a patrol vessel to India and Malaysia and conducted joint training with them, November 2000
- Holding of an experts' meeting; held in Malaysia, November 2000
- Exchange and training of human resources; The Japan Coast Guard Academy has accepted students from 5 southeast Asian countries (Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam) from April 2001
- Technical assistance; JICA will host the "Maritime Law Enforcement Seminar", in cooperation with the Japan Coast Guard, October 2001, in Kitakyusyu, Japan
(4) Exchange of opinions regarding joint patrol
Asian Cooperation Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships (Proposed Outline)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, in cooperation with Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Japan Coast Guard.
Date and Venue;
4-5 October 2001, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Tokyo
(1) Maintaining momentum to tackle piratical problems since 2000.
(2) Sharing information on this problem among the governmental bodies, private sector organizations and experts, and shipowners.
(3) Discussing medium- and long-term vision concerning regional cooperation framework.
Outline of the Conference;
(1) Japan hosts this conference. Deputy Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, will act as chairman.
(2) Participants are basically from the same countries and regions which participated in the Regional Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in April 2000 (namely, ASEAN countries, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Peoples' Republic of China, Hong Kong). In general, two participants (the governmental official concerned and Shipowners' association staff or private sector expert concerned) are invited from each country or region, and there will also be participants invited from IMO and IMB.
(3) All the participants are expected to act in their personal capacity so that they are guaranteed to deliberate freely upon medium- and long-term vision concerning the regional cooperation framework for tackling piratical problems.
(4) Subjects for discussion are based on the followings.
- Exchanges of the information and analysis on piracy in Asian region.
- Introduction of latest counter measures taken by each country.
- Discussion of medium- and long-term visions concerning regional cooperation framework.
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