"Japan sent an armed patrol vessel to the Malacca Strait on Monday as Tokyo steps up its cooperation in the fight against rampant piracy in the region.The 5,200-ton Yashima with a surveillance helicopter on board left Yokohama port southwest of Tokyo for Jakarta, where the two countries are to carry out a joint drill, a Japanese Coast Guardspokeswoman said.The Yashima 'is equipped with regular arms,' she said, without giving more details citing security reasons.'We think it's a good opportunity for our Indonesiancounterparts to share knowledge and experience by actually boarding this high-performance patrol vessel,' she said.'And of course if piracy takes place while Yashima is there, Yashima is ready to scramble to the site and join rescue operations,' she added."Japan takes keeping its oil pipeline open very seriously.
Update: More good stuff here:
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is urging more regional cooperation against sea piracy, particularly in the Straits of Malacca.Sovereignty? We don't need no stinkin' sovereignty. See this earlier post on Malaysia inviting help and allowing private armed escorts. And this on the problems of "hot pursuit" in territorial waters.
Rumsfeld appealed to Thailand and neighboring countries to step up teamwork in fighting piracy in the straits, where the problem has worsened recently, said Thai Defense Minister Thammarak Isarangura after meeting Rumsfeld in Bangkok Monday.
``The United States raised the issue of setting up a center in Malaysia to look over the Malacca Straits because of the pirate problem there,'' said Thammarak.
The United States wants many nations, including Thailand, to cooperate on this.
More than 50,000 ships pass through the 900-kilometer seaway between Malaysia and Indonesia.
Half of the world's oil and a third of its commerce are on ships that use the straits.
Washington has offered the US Navy to help patrol the waterway, insisting that this would not impinge on the sovereignty of bordering countries, which include Thailand and Singapore.
It has backing from Singapore, but not from Malaysia and Indonesia.