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Cablegate: Japan's Seamen's Union and Shipowners Urge Action

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PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #3484/01 3570828
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 220828Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9655
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2295
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA PRIORITY 0198
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA PRIORITY 1305
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RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 2150
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RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMHBA/COMPACFLT PEARL HARBOR HI PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHKO/USDAO TOKYO JA PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/USFJ PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 003484

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/TRA (DAS JOHN BYERLY AND S MILLER)
STATE FOR EAP/J COLIN CROSBY
STATE PM/PPA FOR GLANCY
STATE PM/ISO FOR FREDERICK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EWWT ETRD PREL JA
SUBJECT: JAPAN'S SEAMEN'S UNION AND SHIPOWNERS URGE ACTION
ON SOMALI PIRACY

REF: A. STATE 126055
B. 4 NOV 2008 TOKYO DAILY ACTIVITY REPORT
C. 11 DEC 2008 EMBASSY TOKYO DAILY ACTIVITY REPORT
D. STATE 129941
E. STATE 3405

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) In conjunction with Diet members in the bipartisan
Maritime Safety Coalition, the Japan Shipowners' Association
(JSA) has lobbied the Japanese government for greater
involvement in anti-piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden, a
JSA official told Emboffs December 19. The JSA did not
formally urge the dispatch of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense
Forces (JMSDF), but the JSA's president, during a recent
media interview, suggested JMSDF should be engaged.
Officials in both the JSA and the All Japan Seamen's Union
(JSU) argue that anti-piracy efforts should be an
international matter, but are concerned the issue could get
caught in domestic politics, resulting in delayed or blocked
action. End summary.

Shipowners Lobby For Anti-Piracy Action
---------------------------------------
2. (SBU) In November, the Japan Shipowners' Association
(JSA), accompanied by Diet members of the bipartisan Maritime
Safety Coalition, advocated for more active Japanese
involvement in anti-piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden.
The group lobbied the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure,
Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MOFA), JSA Managing Director Captain Osamu Handa told
Emboffs December 19. Handa stated the JSA had not formally
urged JMSDF deployment, but JSA President (and President of
Kawasaki Kisen Ltd.) Hiroyuki Maekawa had suggested JMSDF
involvement during a recent media interview. "The JMSDF
simply being there would be a helpful deterrent," concluded
Handa.

3. (SBU) Handa said both ruling Liberal Democratic Party
(LDP) and opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Diet
members have responded to JSA's advocacy efforts, but Handa
described the LDP as more engaged on the issue. Piracy is an
international concern, emphasized Handa, and should transcend
domestic politics. The JSA is careful in its advocacy
efforts, however, because it does not want anti-piracy
activities to become an issue in Diet debates between the
ruling and opposition parties, which would delay or block a
Japanese response. Therefore, the JSA is seeking minor
policy changes that would enable the GOJ to increase safety
for seamen of any nationality.

4. (SBU) Handa elaborated that although the Japanese fleet
(ships operated by Japanese shipping companies) consists of
2,300 vessels, only 100 are Japanese-flagged. Current
Japanese law and policy -- which covers only Japanese people
and property -- leaves out the 2,200 flag-of-convenience
Japanese-owned vessels and the over 50,000 non-Japanese
seafarers hired by Japanese shipping companies, said Handa.

Union Focused on Broader Japanese Shipping Interests
--------------------------------------------- -------
5. (SBU) Similarly, the All Japan Seamen's Union (JSU) is
concerned about broader Japanese shipping interests and not
just Japanese-flagged vessels, JSU International Affairs

TOKYO 00003484 002 OF 002


Bureau Director General Hideo Ikeda told Emboffs December 19.
By the Union's collective bargaining agreement, the JSU is
committed to advocating on behalf of seamen regardless of
nationality. Due to its close relationship with the
Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the
Philippines (AMOSUP), the JSU aims to protect its 32,000
Filipino "special members" who work on Japanese-owned
vessels. Given the recent dangers posed by piracy, the
Philippine government-run Philippine Overseas Employment
Agency (PEOA) has begun discussing prohibiting its seamen
from working in dangerous areas, said Ikeda. The JSA is also
on the verge of limiting its members from working in areas
threatened by piracy.

6. (SBU) As it is, "the GOJ response is already too late,"
said the JSU's Ikeda. But in the absence of greater
engagement, the JSA recommends its members do the following
to minimize risks when passing through the Gulf of Aden: 1)
pass through the established Security Corridor; 2) regularly
report their position to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade
Operations (UKMTO), which coordinates with naval forces; 3)
navigate for safety (increasing speed, zig-zagging,
increasing look-outs, etc.); and 4) establish or update
safety procedures and training. Some Japanese-related
vessels avoid the Gulf of Aden entirely by going around the
Cape of Good Hope, but the JSA estimates this costs JSA
members approximately 800 million USD per year, due to bunker
fees and the additional 6,500-kilometer distance. Consistent
with International Maritime Organization (IMO) and
International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) recommendations, JSA
members do not take defensive measures (i.e., carry arms)
against piracy.

7. (SBU) Nearly all Japanese exports (99.7 percent or
approximately 960 million tons per year) travel by ocean,
according to JSA Managing Director Captain Handa, making
security of ocean routes a key concern for Japanese exporters.

ZUMWALT

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