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Friday, March 18, 2005

Japan ready to send ships, aircraft to Malacca Strait over piracy

One of the countries most reliant on safe passage through the Malacca Strait is clearing the decks for action: Japan ready to send ships, aircraft to Malacca Strait over piracy
Japan has told Malaysia and other countries along the Malacca Strait that it is ready to send patrol boats and aircraft to combat piracy, but has not yet received any reply, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said Thursday.

"As we have received neither a request nor a declination, I think they are still considering," Hosoda, the top government spokesman, told a press conference.

Three crewmembers of a Japanese-owned tugboat were abducted Monday in an attack by pirates in the strait but Hosoda said the offer is not intended at pressing the countries for more efforts to rescue them.

"Japanese frequently go through the strait so we are ready to cooperate if requested, but there is also a possibility they regard it as unnecessary because they carry out such duties on their own," Hosoda said.

"I want this (offer) to be considered separately" from the piracy incident, he said.

As for Indonesia, Tokyo has moved up from after April to during this month a plan to send a fact-finding team to determine the type of a high-speed patrol ship it will give the country to help in its antipiracy efforts.

Update: The Philippines is working on the issue, too, according to this.
THE GOVERNMENT is exerting effort to free a Filipino abducted in Malacca Strait in Malaysia, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s spokesman said.

Ignacio Bunye, concurrent press secretary, said on Thursday that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) designated a team to focus on the case of the missing Filipino who has not been identified.

Update2: From a Singapore Angle has an interesting post on the Malacca Straits pirate problems here.

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