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Japan Pledges to Help Indonesia Fight Pirates

Japan, which imports most of its crude oil via the pirate-infested Malacca Straits, pledged on Wednesday to help Indonesia fight sea-borne piracy, saying keeping sea-lanes safe was vital for regional development. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri during a meeting in Tokyo that increased international policing was needed to wipe out the pirate scourge. “We especially want to cooperate on measures to fight piracy,” a Japanese official quoted Koizumi as telling Megawati. “Multilateral cooperation is needed to increase policing for safer seas, which are essential for future regional development.” Attacks on ships in Southeast Asian waters are rising sharply and are becoming more violent. There are concerns too that militant groups could target shipping in the region. Eighty percent of Japan’s oil imports come through the narrow Malacca Straits between Indonesia and Singapore. At least eight vessels, including two container ships, have been attacked off Indonesia in recent weeks and the International Maritime Bureau, an industry watchdog, has warned of a “potential human and environmental catastrophe” if the attacks continue.Full Story

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