Statement by H.E. Mr. Akio Suda, Ambassador in Charge of International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation, at the Kuala Lumpur Meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore
"Basic Policy of Japan's Contributions and Cooperation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore"
September 18, 2006
- First, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Government of Malaysia for hosting this significant conference in cooperation with Indonesia and Singapore. I would also like to express my special appreciation to Secretary-General of the IMO and his staff for organizing this meeting. From the Government of Japan, two representatives, Mr. Shigetaro Yamamoto, Vice-Minister of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and I will share our initial presentation. I have a cap of officer in charge of counter-terrorism, but at this conference, I am speaking on behalf of the Japanese Foreign Ministry as a whole.
- In the past decades, the importance of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore has kept rising. Especially, corresponding the remarkable economic growth of Asian region, the number of major user countries and volume of traffic in the Straits have grown enormously, and added ever increasing importance to safety, security and environment protection of the Straits. Thus the closer cooperation among the littoral states and with users in various forms is even more needed. For this reason, Japan welcomes and puts great importance to the holding of this second meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which followed the very successful first meeting in Jakarta last year. This is an extremely significant process in which not only littoral states but all the stakeholders join and discuss the issues on the Straits in a comprehensive manner. Japan is determined to continue playing an active and constructive role in this process.
- (1) It is a firm position of the Government of Japan that, as a matter of principle for this cooperation, we should fully respect the sovereignty of the littoral states of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, endorsing them to play a central and primary role in various programs and activities to be carried out in the straits. Upon this principle, it is also of essential importance that the user states cooperate in these programs and activities in the spirit of burden sharing by beneficiaries. The initiatives of and close cooperation between the littoral states, as well as the strong support of the user states for the initiatives of the littoral states, are both necessary to solve problems and improve conditions in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
(2) Japan appreciates the initiatives taken by the littoral states through their mutual cooperation to address various issues in the Straits and hope that those efforts will continue and ever expand. They include the works of the Tripartite Technical Experts Group and joint patrols such as the Eyes in the Sky. We also appreciate and welcome the works of the littoral states which brought about six project proposals before us. Besides, the Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) launched by the initiative of the IMO is expected to contribute not only to environmental protection but also to the navigational safety and maritime security. Japan welcomes the start of the MEH demonstration project.
- The tasks over the Straits of Malacca and Singapore are becoming more diverse, requiring comprehensive approach encompassing navigational safety, maritime security, and environmental protection. For some decades, Japan, as one of the major user states, and in the spirit of burden sharing by beneficiaries, has been actively cooperating in safety, security and environmental protection through its governmental as well as private avenues. The Government of Japan has been extending both technical and financial cooperations. The Japan Coast Guard conducted experts dispatch, seminars and joint training for littoral states. We assisted infrastructure development such as upgrading of the wireless communication network, the development of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), joint hydrological surveys and the development of electronic hydrological maps of the Straits. On top of that, Japan conducted, in 2001 to 2002, the study for "the Maritime Traffic Safety System Development Plan" of Indonesia, and we are now preparing to extend assistance to the main components of that plan including the installation of Vessel Traffic Services Centers (VTS) which is to enhance safety in the narrow parts of the Straits. Talking of the Japanese private sector, they have made enormous contributions which amounts to 15 billion yen since 1968. The fund was used to finance installation of navigation aids, oil fences for environmental protection, and training vessels provided to Malaysia's law-enforcement agencies, etc.
- At the present time, when actual threat of piracy, terrorism and organized crime actually exist, the security of the Straits is of all stakeholders. To ensure the maritime security of the Straits, it is imperative to have close cooperation between the littoral states and stronger support from user states to capacity building of the littoral states. For that purpose, we need to enhance information sharing and to encourage the user states to provide support to the littoral states in various ways.
- In this context, we welcome the entering into force of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), which took place only two weeks ago. I hope that ReCAAP will play a significant role in ensuring the maritime security of the waters in this region. Japan will support the operation of the agreement through financial and other means of cooperation. I hope that the littoral states who have not yet signed the agreement will join it before long and make the agreement most effective. The participation of major user states in the region is also important. I would like to solicit the participation of these countries.
- (1) With their geographical narrowness and heavy traffic, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore would be vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The possibility of terrorism at sea has the potential to become a serious concern all over the world. As terrorism diversifies in terms of perpetrators and techniques, the mission of counter-terrorism comes to require more elaborated and enduring efforts. At the Japan- ASEAN Summit Meeting in December last year, Japan and ASEAN agreed to launch the Counter-Terrorism Dialogue which was later held in Tokyo last June with a view to strengthening counterterrorism cooperation between ASEAN and Japan. At this dialogue, maritime safety was considered to be one of the priority areas of cooperation, and we agreed to consider further cooperation in the area.
(2) To enhance security measures, including measures to combat terrorism and piracy, Japan started Grant Aid Program for Cooperation on Counter-Terrorism and Security Enhancement from this fiscal year. The total possible amount goes up to 7 billion yen. On the area of maritime safety, the program would cover provision of maritime enforcement vessels, protection of harbors and airports, capacity building of law-enforcement agencies and others. In June 2006, an exchange of notes (E/N) was signed on the Construction of Patrol Vessels for Indonesia. Under this grant program, Japan will consider further support for projects aimed at enhancing maritime safety and security in the straits.
(3) At the Japan-ASEAN Summit Meeting in December 2005, Japan also announced the assistance of 70 million US dollars for "ASEAN Integration", and in March 2006 the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) was established. A part of this fund can be utilized for useful projects such as navigational safety, maritime security, and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
- It is of paramount importance for all of us, littoral states and users, to make it sure that the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, the world most important sea-lanes, are safe and open. In doing so, consideration must be given both to the sovereign right of the littoral states and the needs of the beneficiaries, who in turn, should bear appropriate shares of burden. I hope that all beneficiaries including those major user states in the region and others will take their parts in this endeavor. I hope that this Kuala Lumpur Meeting will produce constructive outcomes through fruitful discussions among the participants, in particular, regarding possible modality of future cooperation between the littoral and user states.
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