Writing 2) In response to a 2008 Japan

Writing
for Eurasiareview, Farhaoui summarizes Japanese concerns in these Persian Gulf
developments as dating back to the 1980s (Farhaoui,
2016). During this decade, some Japanese merchant vessels were attacked and
casualties were reported. In response, the Government of Japan declined
physical intervention but did provide financial support for the establishment
of a reconnaissance system in the Gulf region (Farhaoui, 2016). By 1992, and
with the passing of major domestic laws such as the Peace Keeping Operations
Law (PKO Law) (Act on Cooperation for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
and Other Operations, 1992), Japan was able to widen its region-specific lens
(Asia-Pacific) to include the Indian Ocean and Arab region as a whole within
its strategic scope. Following the 9/11 attacks on the United States Japan
deployed a contingent of Self-Defense Force personnel to the Gulf region in
2003 under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) which was followed by a 2005
monitoring mission of Japanese sea lanes in the Indian Ocean (Farhaoui, 2016).

 

Exactly
what is Japan’s stake in the security of the Gulf of Aden? According to The
Cabinet Secretariat of The Government of Japan’s March 2016 annual report
(2015):

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“Japan depends, 99.6% of its trade
volume, on maritime transportation, therefore, the navigational safety is the
key for the daily life of its people as well as for its economy. The Gulf of
Aden is one of the vital shipping lanes for Japan, since 13% of the world
container cargos and 740,000 exported vehicles…from Japan were transported
through the Gulf of Aden in 2015.”

(The
Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2015, 2016, pp. 2)

 

In
response to a 2008 Japan Seamen Unions demand for security (Farhaoui, 2016), Japanese
counter-piracy operations began in March 2009 under Article 82 of the SDF Act
in order to protect Japanese interests in the waters around Somalia. The
Government of Japan shortly thereafter deployed two JMSDF destroyers and two
P-3C maritime patrol aircraft (The Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan
Annual Report 2015, 2016, pp. 4).

 

Franz-Stefan
Gady writing for The Diplomat, states that “According to Japanese Defense
Minister, General Nakatani, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)
conducted 728 counter-piracy operations and escorted more than 3,800 commercial
ships since 2009. In addition, JMSDF aircraft flew more than 1,568 maritime
surveillance and reconnaissance missions” (Franz-Stefan Gady, 2016, pp. 1).
Furthermore, Gady notes that Japan has been operating with CTF151 since 2009
and for three months beginning in June 2015 CTF151 was commanded by JMSDF Rear
Admiral Hiroshi Ito (Gady, 2016, pp. 1), (The Cabinet Secretariat The
Government of Japan Annual Report 2015, 2016, pp. 4-5) and (Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of Japan,2016, pp. 1).

 

Japan’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes other significant actions taken for the
purpose of counter-piracy: “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” effective July
2009 and extended July 2015; supporting of the CGPCS and Resolution 1851;
assisting the Djibouti Coast Guard; amongst other actions such as financing, significant
aid, and humanitarian assistance (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2016, pp.
1)1.
Furthermore, The Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2015
states that in order to provide for security on board Japanese flagged ships traversing
the “pirate infested waters”, the “Act on Special Measures Concerning the
Guarding of Japanese Ships in Pirate-Infested Waters” (enacted November 13,
2013) allows Japanese flagged ships to host Privately Contracted Armed Security
Personnel (PCASP) (The Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual
Report 2015, 2016, pp. 8). This Annual Report also notes other operations such
as “Joint Counter-Piracy Exercise with EU NAVFOR”, “Joint Counter-Piracy
Exercise with Naval Forces from CTF151″, Joint Counter-Piracy Exercise with the
Pakistan Navy” as well as join exercises with Turkey and the Republic of Korea
as other counter-piracy operations (The Cabinet Secretariat The Government of
Japan Annual Report 2015, 2016, pp. 9).

 

Japan
also maintains a base in Djibouti, operational since June 1, 2011 (Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2016, pp. 1), which hosts two JMSDF P-3C Orion
maritime patrol aircraft and around 200 personnel (Gady, 2016, pp. 1) with
counter-piracy as its operational purpose (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan,
2016, pp. 1). As of 2017, according to Gady, the Japanese stated that they will
continue their anti-piracy operations into 2017 (Gady, 2016, pp. 1). Therefore,
one can easily see that Japan has taken many large steps, and continues to due
so, in order to support international activities in countering pirate
operations in and around the Gulf of Aden. The continuing operations by the
JSDF highlight the importance of the security of its maritime traffic and trade
to the Japanese economy and citizens.

 

In
conclusion, we can trace Somali piracy being influenced by a number of factors:
1) The collapse of government institutions including banking and coastal
monitoring systems in and after 1991; 2) Continuing civil war leading to a
worsening economic situation; 3) Foreign vessels illegally fishing in Somali
waters thus leading to a decline in fish stocks thus affecting the amount of
fish caught by Somali fishermen which impacted their ability to sell their
product; and 4) dumping of toxic and nuclear waste leading to health issues of
the local population. However, if my hypothesis is correct in that this
socio-political “coast guard” veil has been lifted then we can add a fifth factor
which is ‘greed’. I propose this because it seems unlikely that operating
outside the Gulf of Aden, or perhaps even Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone
(EEZ) granted by UNCLOS, can garner the same justifications of ‘dumping’ and
‘illegal fishing’ and thus these attacks outside of this zone are strictly for
greed.

 

In
order to tackle the issue of piracy in Somalia the international community
responded with various initiatives such as international aid but primarily
relying upon offensive/defensive military operations operating at sea. For its
turn, the Japanese government decided to act within the legal limits set by its
constitution in order to provide for the security of its merchant vessels which
are seen as vital to the Japanese economy and people. Although piracy does not
represent an existential threat to the security or economy of the territorial Japanese
State, because of their geological status, it was, and remains imperative that Japan
take action in order to secure its maritime operations. To this regard,
although Japan and the international community as a whole has spent a
significant amount of treasure on aid and naval missions to the region more
needs to be done in order to see permanent gains vis-à-vis the pirates.

 

History
shows that piracy itself will not go away, but certain actions must still be
taken by a State, or group of States in order to mitigate the threat of piracy.
As the Roman General Pompeii calculated, maritime operations must be
complimented by terrestrial operations in order to see success. Any Gulf of
Aden operations must tackle the root causes of piracy in Somalia – the never-ending
civil war, economic disparity, and illegal fishing and dumping – which means operations
do not end on the shoreline of Somalia. Even if the international community
remains hesitant to insert combat forces, the current Somali government (TFG)
will need both UN advisors-led training and assistance to more adequately
conduct anti-piracy operations. This would mean the lifting, or targeting
lifting of UNRES 733 and 1844 which would allow at least advisors into the
country. Secondly, kinetic operations must be complimented by economic strategies
which offer locals and fishermen opportunities to acquire money legally through
local/regional job prospects, training, or employment in a legitimate,
government operated Coast Guard. Third, illegal fishing and dumping should be
monitored first by the international community and then transferred to a TFG
Coast Guard (this process must be conducted legally – i.e. through treaty). In
this regard, illegal fishers and their respective companies must be held
accountable and in a way that is visible to the people of Somalia. It is one
thing to say that you will hold illegal fishers accountable and another to
prove to the people that you indeed held them accountable. Fourth, residual
health issues due to dumping must be considered and constructively dealt with
through medical assistance. These are long-term, overarching and far-reaching
goals but touch on, and resolve, the main drivers for piracy. A stable Somalia
governed under the rule of law (domestic and international) will allow for
stability in not only in Somalia but in surrounding States which will lead to a
safer world in general.

 

Simply
because Japan is legally constrained in putting boots on the ground in conflict
areas does not mean that its operations should be limited to the Gulf of Aden
or Djibouti. Japan could assist any UN mission by providing monetary assistance
for the training of a coast guard, or the creation of a local economy or local initiatives.
Furthermore, as Japan has a robust legal system it can assist Somalia in the
creation of legal mechanisms in order to put pirates or illegal fishers on
trial. Japan can also, as it has done in the case of Djibouti, provide naval
vessels to any newly created Somali Coast Guard. Lastly, Japan can assist in
the medical recovery of local economies through direct medical assistance
(medicine etc.) or through monetary support. Therefore, Japan, and the
international community, must take a more robust and comprehensive approach in
tackling the threat of piracy and not limit their actions strictly to maritime
and kinetic operations if gains are to be had. Without a doubt, even as General
Nakatani praised current initiatives and success, he noted that the root causes
for the continuous JMSDF naval presence remain unaddressed: “in light of the
fact that the fundamental factors that foster piracy, such as poverty in
Somalia, have not been resolved, the threat of piracy still continues. If the
international community lets up on the effort, piracy activity may grow again.”
(Gady, 2016).

1
The Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2015 also notes
“Japan’s Financial and Technical Cooperation to Tackle Piracy” (The Cabinet
Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2015, 2016, pp. 10). 

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