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Japan to keep protecting Filipino seamen from pirates

/ 06:11 AM September 12, 2011

Japan has reaffirmed its 2009 commitment to protect Filipino seafarers, among other foreign sailors, from pirates operating off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden in east Africa.

In a report, the Japanese Embassy in Pasay City said the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) would continue to escort vessels passing through these areas.

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The embassy noted that the Tokyo government’s law against acts of piracy “enables the JSDF to protect vessels regardless of their nationalities, complementing other efforts made globally to ensure a safe passage for ships in response to rampant acts of piracy and hijacking occurring off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden.”

The JSDF started its ship escorting operations on July 24, 2009.

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“Since then, 1,943 vessels with various national flags have benefited from the escort operations,” said the mission.

The embassy pointed out that “Filipino seafarers are, by far, the biggest beneficiaries of these ship escort operations.”

Of the 45,678 sailors assisted by the JSDF, at least 14,315 were Philippine nationals, it disclosed.

Of the 1,943 vessels that benefited from the operations, at least 11 were Philippine-flagged, the mission also said.

In June, the JSDF opened a $60-million air operations base in Djibouti, which borders Somalia.

The 12-hectare facility can accommodate at least three aircraft, as well as housing facilities for some 200 military personnel.

Philippine Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe called the JSDF vessel escorting service proof of the “excellent relations” between Tokyo and Manila.

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“In the Gulf of Aden, our maritime forces, destroyers and P3C surveillance aircraft are providing security to Filipino seafarers (belonging to) the international merchant fleet. Our forces are providing common good to our global community,” said Urabe during a recent reception he hosted at his Makati City residence.

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TAGS: Filipino seafarers, Gulf of Aden in East Africa, Japan, Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF), pirates, Somalia
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