BecauseJapanese trade volume and economic vitality is maritime dependent, thenavigational safety is the key for the Japanese economy and the daily life ofits people.
As it connects Asia with Europe through the Suez Canal, the safetyand security of the Gulf of Aden, and the coastline along Somalia, is vital (TheCabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2014, 2015, pp. 2) toprotect its national interests. Since approximately 2000 Japanese ships usethese shipping lanes annually (Shigeki Sakamoto, Slide 9), the nation’sintervention continues to be one of the most urgent and critical issues forJapan in this decade actions to ensure the vitality and safety of theseshipping lanes. The Country’s challengewas to determinate how much intervention is permitted under the Japanese constitution. Japan’sconcerns with Persian Gulf region have its origins during the 1980s.
Due to adeclining security environment, the Japanese government slowly introduced newmeasures and law in order to counter these threats. Significantly, following1992, 2003 with the beginning of the Second Gulf War, and 2005 Japan becamemore interested in the security of the Persian Gulf Region and Indian Ocean asa whole thus enlarging its long-held focus on the Asia-Pacific region (FouadFarhaoui 2016). Thispaper will review the history, root causes, actions, justification, and the regionaland international responses to Somali piracy while using resources that presentboth the world’s view on piracy and the words of the pirates themselvesspanning from their ‘roots’ in the early 1990s and through 2017. Consideredfirst will be the history of the pirates themselves which will include the profferedjustifications for piracy as well as actions (hijackings etc.) through theperiod of the early 2000s up until 2017. Next, regional and internationalinitiatives to combat piracy will be discussed. Lastly, Japanese governmentactions specifically concerning piracy will be addressed. It is important tonote that not every pirate attack or hijacking will be addressed as such isbeyond the scope of this paper, except reference will be made to certainattacks if they have a particular impact on events.
Itis important to establish a clear definition of piracy. According to the UnitedNations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), piracy is “any illegal actsof violence or detention or any act of depredation, committed for private endsby the crew or passengers of a private ship”, to which “is limited to the highseas and places ‘outside the jurisdiction of any State'” (Elliot A. Anderson,2010, pp.
320). The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a division of theInternational Chamber of Commerce, defines piracy as “an act of boarding orattempting to board any ship with the intent to commit theft or any other crimewith the intent or capability to use force in the furtherance of the act.” (UrsulaDaxecker and Brandon Prins, 2013, pp. 946). Thus, according to Ursula Daxeckerand Brandon Prins, “thus includes actual and attempted attacks against shipswhether they are anchored, berthed, or steaming in territorial or internationalwaters (Daxecker and Prins, 2013, pp. 946).
Pirateshave been around for millennia – the Romans combating them for over a centuryuntil only achieving victory after combined naval/terrestrial operations led byPompey1; theBritish, Spanish, Portuguese encountering them in their overtures to the ‘newworld’2; andthe Japanese pirates which sailed the coasts of Japan, Korea, and China3 – area few examples which show that piracy is not new phenomena. Contemporarilyspeaking, piracy has been witnessed in the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Guinea,Niger River delta, Malacca Strait, and around the Indian subcontinent(Christopher Alessi and Stephanie Hanson, 2012, pp. 2). According to Christian Bueger, numerous studieshave elaborated upon the environment most amenable to pirates: 1. Geography– proximity to a major sea lane and maritime trafficking, as well as hideoutsclose-by;2. Weaklaw enforcement structures;3.
Collaborationby officials and administrations (corruption);4. Adegree of infrastructure, such as ports, markets or roads needed for thelogistics of running a piracy operation;5. Thepresence of a populace which can be recruited for piracy and which supportsoperations with logistics;6. Skillsand experience necessary to run an operations (eg navigation skills);7. Adegree of cultural acceptability of piracy, which renders it a legitimateactivity;8. Highlevels of poverty and a lack of sources of income. (Christian Bueger, 2013, pp.
1813-1814) Inlight of these characteristics presented by Bueger, the context of Somali piracy will be reviewed. Somalia is locatedin Africa’s ‘Horn’ and rests below the Gulf of Aden, with the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to its east(Anderson, 2010, pp. 321). It is registered as one of the United Nations “leastdeveloped countries” with an economy primarily relying on local agriculturewith some trade in cattle with no industrial capacity (Anderson, 2010, pp.
325-326).The ‘roots’ of contemporary Somali piracy can be found in the early 1990sSomalia. In 1991, the Government of Somalia, holding power since a coup in 1969,collapsed (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 2). Soon after, the State descended intoconflict, claims of cessation (Republic of Somaliland and Puntland), a failed UNpeace mission ending in 1995, continuing civil war, conflicting claims ofdomestic governments (between the Somalia Transitional Federal InstitutionTFI in 2004 and later the Council of Islamic Courts CIC), and eventually witnessingthe rise of terrorism and the continuity of civil war (Anderson, 2010, pp.
324-325). Twodecades of civil war have impacted economic growth and opportunity, to a pointwhere one can characterize it as “informal at best” (Anderson, 2010, pp. 325). Sincethe collapse of the government in 1991, which includes banking institutions,there is essentially no functioning formal economy (Anderson, 2010, pp. 322). Somalipiracy can trace its origins to the poor/severely limited economic performance,and the weak, nonexistent, or ineffective government institutions (Alessi andHanson, 2012, pp. 3).
Somali’s long coastline and its unguarded ports providethe environment conducive to piracy (Rick “Ozzie” Nelson and Brianna Fitch,2012, pp. 1). Theseconditions also affected the Somali fishing industry which, “may have directlycontributed to the rise in piracy off the coast of Somalia.” (Anderson, 2010, pp.326). The lack of economic prospects for fishermen is one of the most oft-citedreasons for the rise of Somali piracy.4 (UnitedNations Office on Drugs and Crime and Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2015, pp.
1, 2, 4).Additionally, following the collapse of government institutions, foreignfishing vessels moved into those unguarded water and the resulting illegalfishing adversely impacted Somali fishermen (United Nations Office on Drugs andCrime and Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2015, pp. 1, 2, 4; and Anderson, 2010, pp. 327;and Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 2). Writing for TIME magazine and quoting a2006 United Nations report, Ishaan Tharoor averred that, without a functioningcoast guard, “Somali waters have become the site of an international ‘free forall,’ with fishing fleets from around the world illegally plundering Somalistocks and freeing out the country’s own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen”(Tharoor, 2009, pp.
1). According to Anderson, “Some pirates claim that theyturned to hijacking as a method to impede foreign vessels trying to destroytheir fishing boats and equipment and to inhibit illegal fishing” (Anderson,2010, pp. 327) and thus became vigilantes under the guise of a pseudo-coastguard in order to protect their fisheries. Somali fishermen also reported thatthey were fired upon by foreign vessels using water cannons and weapons(Tharoor, 2009, pp. 1). Therefore, as Rick “Ozzie” Nelson and Brianna Fitch writefor the Center For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), “a lack ofeconomic opportunity and development, combined with devastating famines, hasboosted the allure of piracy for many Somalis” (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1).
Inaddition to the illegal fishing issues, various pirates also claimed the dumpingof toxic and nuclear waste on and near the Somali coast following the collapseof the government required their intervention. Tharoor cites a UN EnvironmentalProgram report released in 2005, that people living along the coast of Somaliahave complained of respiratory issues and skin diseases which are connected totoxic and nuclear waste (Tharoor, 2009, pp. 2). 1For a discussion on Pompeii’s operations on the Mediterranean pirates, as wellas a huge history of the Roman Army in general, see Patricia Southern’s The Roman Army: A History 753 BC – AD 476.’Pirates’ are listed on pages: 31, 136-137, 421-422.
2For a quick overview on Europe’s encounter with pirates see http://www.thewayofthepirates.com/types-of-pirates/buccaneers/3For a quick discussion on Japanese pirates (Wakou) – who were not all Japanese– see https://www.nippon.com/en/features/c00101/4Per a joint report conducted by the United National Office on Drugs and Crime(UNODC) and Oceans Beyond Piracy utilizing interviews with 66 pirates currentlyserving time in Hargeisa prison in Somaliland, Montagne Posee Prison inSeychelles, and Bosasso Prison residing in Puntland.