Japan's Actions against Piracy off the Coast of Somalia
February 15, 2016
Japan remains concerned about the continuing threat posed by piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. Although a marked reduction has been seen in the number of attacks and hijackings since 2012, Japan observes that the underlying causes of piracy remain in place, and the current decline is inherently reversible.
Japan has taken a number of concrete actions to address the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden in cooperation with international partners. Japan is committed to continuing with its effort to ensure maritime security and to work together with international partners in order to improve stability in Somalia and build law enforcement capacity in its neighboring countries.
Japan’s actions against piracy include
- enacting “Act of Punishment and Countermeasures against Piracy,” which criminalizes acts of piracy and enables Japan’s naval vessels to protect any ship from pirates regardless of her flag. The law came into effect on July 24, 2009. In July 2015, the Cabinet decided to extend the mandate of the current operation until July 23, 2016.
- deploying two Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyers with Japan Coast Guard law enforcement officers on board from March 2009, as part of the international effort to enhance maritime security through naval patrols and escort operations. As of June 30, 2015, Japan’s vessels have escorted 3,577 ships in 621 escort missions.
- participating in CTF-151 and conducting zone-defense activities from December 2013, while continuing its escort operations. Since May 31, 2015, Japan took command of CTF-151 for three months.
- deploying two P-3C maritime patrol aircraft to the Gulf of Aden. These aircraft began patrol missions on June 11, 2009 and have completed 1,355 mission flights as of June 30, 2015. The patrols are making a significant contribution in detecting pirate vessels and providing information on suspicious ships to other States’ naval vessels and merchant shipping nearby. Numerous cases led to disarming of pirate ships. Furthermore, JMSDF started to operate its facility in Djibouti for counter-piracy mission on June 1, 2011.
- enacting “the Act on Special Measures Concerning the Guarding of Japanese Ships in Pirate-Infested Waters”, which sets forth special measures such as permitting private guards with rifles to conduct guarding Japanese tankers and other ships in pirate-infested waters.
- actively participating in discussions in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia established pursuant to UNSC resolution 1851 and its Working Groups. Japan is committed to working in cooperation with other participants in the CGPCS. Japan chaired its fourth meeting in September 2009.
- providing financial assistance of approximately US$371 million since 2007 for improvement of the humanitarian and security situations in Somalia.
- providing technical assistance and patrol vessels to Djibouti Coast Guard for improvement of its capacities for maritime security and also conducting trainings for coast guards of other countries in its region.
- contributing US$14.6 million to the IMO Djibouti Code Trust Fund (a Japan-initiated Multi-donor trust fund) for capacity-building in Somalia and its neighboring countries, and US$4.5 million to the Trust Fund to Support Initiative of States countering pirates off the coast of Somalia for the purpose of prosecution of suspected pirates
- extending an ad-hoc contribution of US$ 560,000 in 2012 and about US$408,000 in 2014 to the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC) for the purpose of sharing experience on anti-piracy measures in Asia with neighboring states around Somalia and enhancing their capacities to prevent and suppress piracy and armed robbery. With these contributions, ReCAAP-ISC held Joint ReCAAP/Djibouti Code of Conduct Counter Piracy Seminar and Workshop in Tokyo in December 2012.
- completed the judicial process against four apprehended Somali pirates who were transferred to Japan. Those four pirates are convicted of attempting to hijack and also actually attacking MV Guanabara off Oman on 5 March 2011.
Further, as indicated in the TICAD V Yokohama Declaration 2013, the TICAD V participants agreed that resolving cross border issues, such as piracy, amongst others, is also essential to realize a stable African continent. TICAD V Yokohama Action Plan 2013-2017 also pointed out that piracy poses a serious threat to the safety and security of maritime navigation, shipping and related activities, particularly off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea, and requires a comprehensive solution both on the high seas and on land. In this regard, Japan, as part of its assistance package for Africa at TICAD V, has announced that it would support the capacity building of coast guards in neighboring countries of Somalia, including provision of patrol vessels.