Statement by Prime Minister Taro Aso
Today, the Law on the Penalization of Acts of Piracy and Measures against Acts of Piracy was enacted.
Japan is surrounded by the sea. International trade is extremely important for Japan, since for example it depends on imports for large proportions of its supply of most major kinds of resources. Ensuring the safety of maritime navigation is therefore of vital importance for the economy and society of Japan and the daily lives of its people.
In such circumstances, the high incidence and rapid increase of acts of piracy at sea seen recently off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden constitute a threat not only to Japan but also to the international community. This is a challenge to which Japan must repond actively so as to discharge its responsibility as a member of international community.
In order to counter the pirates, in March the Japanese government issued instructions to conduct maritime police operations and dispatched two destroyers with officials of the Japan Coast Guard aboard [as well as those of the Maritime Self Defense Forces] to waters off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. Thus far, a total of 87 Japanese-related vessels have been escorted in 28 operations.
These operations are producing steady results. Since the destroyers started their operations, there has not been a single Japanese-related vessel under escort which was attacked by pirates. There have been numerous expressions of gratitude from the captains of the escorted vessels.
We should not forget that these results are due to the unfailing efforts by the Self -Defense Forces personnel and Coast Guard officials who are taking part, amidst the harsh climate and tense conditions, in the highly important mission of ensuring the safety of maritime navigation . I am proud of these personnel and express my respect and gratitude to them and their families.
A series of United Nations Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1816 call for countries to dispatch naval vessels and take other such measures in order to counter the pirates off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. In response, many countries and organizations from Europe, North America and Asia have dispatched naval vessels and have taken other such action, as a result of which international anti-piracy operations have already begun.
In closing, I sincerely request the public's continued understanding and support.