This week's kidnapping crisis in the southern Philippines has thrown the spotlight on the growing problem of piracy in Asian waters, delegates at an international maritime conference said. Maritime authorities from 15 countries -- including Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and South Korea
– are meeting in Tokyo to discuss piracy in the region, mainly the armed robbery of commercial ships sailing through Southeast Asia.
The conference has been overshadowed by last Sunday's kidnapping of 21 people, including 10 foreign tourists, on Malaysia's Sipadan island. The Philippines, where the hostages are now being held, says the kidnappers are a mix of fundamentalist Moslem rebels and former guerrillas who had become bandits.