The Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) vessels escorted a total of 3,522 commercialships in the waters of the Gulf of Aden between 28 July 2009 and 28 February 2015 to protect them against pirate attacks, the Japanese transport ministry said on 13 March.
Of the 3,522 commercial ships escorted by the JSDF vessels on 593 occasions under Japan’s Anti-Piracy Law, only 16 were Japan-registered and the remaining 3,506 were foreign-registered.
Of the 3,506 foreign-registered ships, 643 were operated by Japanese shipping firms, while the remaining 2,863 were operated by foreign shipping companies, including 123 vessels indirectly related to Japanese companies.
From 28 July 2009 to 28 February 2015, the JSDF vessels escorted 1,718 oil tankers, 1,365 general cargo ships, 150 special cargo vessels, 107 LPG carriers, 79 container ships, 67 automobile carriers, 24 passenger vessels, and 12 LNG carriers.
The Anti-Piracy Law, which was enacted in Japan’s parliament on 19 June 2009 and took effect on 24 July that year, allows the JSDF to escort foreign commercial ships and fire at pirate vessels if they ignore warning signals and approach merchant ships.
Japan’s post-World War Two pacifist constitution imposes strict restrictions on the JSDF’s activities abroad. The JSDF had previously been allowed to escort only Japan-related ships, such as Japan-registered and Japan-operated vessels, and its use of weapons had been limited to acts of legitimate self-defence.