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2009年6月 1日 (月)

海自P3C派遣 海賊対策で他国を助ける番だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 1, 2009)
P-3C aircraft vital boost for antipiracy mission
海自P3C派遣 海賊対策で他国を助ける番だ(6月1日付・読売社説)

Japan's antipiracy efforts off Somalia are set to enter a new stage.

Two Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C patrol aircraft were dispatched to Djibouti. The two planes are expected to start warning and surveillance flights as soon as early this month in conjunction with the protective activities of the two MSDF destroyers convoying Japan-linked commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden.

The destroyers have been active in the area since late March. But the two vessels can only actually properly protect three vessels at a time on average and so have been able to convoy fewer than a quarter of all the Japan-related ships sailing in the area.

If cargo ships arrive at their destinations behind schedule, expenses can mount up for the operator. Many ships likely are forced to sail through the area without escort despite the risk posed by pirates, when their schedule cannot be matched to that of the MSDF destroyers.

With their higher mobility, the P-3C planes can surveil a wider swath of ocean in support of the destroyers' activities.

More importantly, the P-3C activities can contribute to ensuring the safety of foreign ships by tracking pirate ships and providing the information via radio to both cargo ships and the appropriate naval vessels in the area.


Dispatch slowed

Due to problems in coordinating the mission domestically, the departure of the destroyers was delayed. Until their dispatch, Japan had been totally dependent on other countries to protect Japan-linked ships

Currently, four other countries--France, Germany, Spain and the United States--have three to five P-3C flying patrols off the coast of Somalia. The participation of the two MSDF planes in their activities would strengthen the antipiracy forces.

The MSDF has about 100 P-3Cs and the planes have an established reputation as capable patrol aircraft. The government intends to dispatch two P-3C planes in four-month shifts. The international community will welcome Japan's activities.


At the same time, the number of pirate incidents off Somalia this year was 125, already exceeding the 111 recorded for all of 2008. The damage done by pirates has been rapidly increasing, especially off the eastern coast of Somalia where the security is relatively poor.

More than 20 countries have dispatched navy ships to the area, but their effectiveness has been limited. Relevant countries need to be ready for a long battle with pirates and get serious about antipiracy measures.


New laws vital

For the MSDF to operate more effectively, it is important to pass into law earlier an antipiracy bill under deliberation at the House of Councillors.

As Japan has sent the destroyers to the Gulf of Aden on an antipiracy mission under the authority of the maritime police action provision of the Self-Defense Forces Law, their duties are basically limited to the protection of Japan-linked ships. The passage of the bill would expand the mission's scope by enabling the Self-Defense Forces to protect foreign vessels and broaden the rules on the use of weapons by the SDF.

With the enactment of the bill, when the destroyers are asked for help by other countries' ships, they would be allowed to respond more appropriately by firing warning shots or even by opening fire on suspicious vessels in addition to simply warning them off with loudspeakers.

Under the new law, there would be a wider range of alternatives for more effective activities, such as coordinating the warning and surveillance work of the P-3Cs with other countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 1, 2009)
(2009年6月1日01時41分  読売新聞)


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