A Japanese maritime safety expert chided Southeast Asian countries on Tuesday for failing to cooperate fully in the fight against pirate attacks in their waters. Hiroshi Terashima
, executive director of The Nippon Foundation, told a conference on piracy that more than 80 percent of Japan's oil imports pass through the narrow Malacca Strait between Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and it was vital it was kept safe.
Attacks on ships jumped by 57 percent worldwide in 2000 with more than half of the incidents in Southeast Asian waters.
Terashima told the conference that cooperation in fighting pirates in the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest sea lanes, was essential. But he said cooperation was not good. "The cooperation among these countries is not necessarily in the most ideal state so how we go about creating regional cooperation in the future is going to be a key issue," he said.
The Nippon Foundation is a non-profit organization and one of its areas of interest is marine safety.
Some 170 delegates from more than 20 countries are attending the two-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, organized by the London-based International Maritime Bureau.
Terashima told the conference that piracy worldwide had cost the Japanese shipping industry about $24 million in the past five years. And pirate attacks are getting more violent.
According to Malaysian figures 72 sailors were killed in pirate attacks in 2000 compared with only three in 1999. There were 119 pirate incidents in Indonesian waters last year and 56 in Malaysian waters.
Malaysia says its overnight patrols and faster boats have cut the number of attacks, but the IMB says stretches of the Malacca Strait still
pose a high risk. Last week a tanker bound for the Malaysian island
of Labuan was intercepted by pirates in the Strait. - (Reuters)