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Due to the Malacca Straits' strategic centrality in contemporary regional shipping routes, the Japanese have become very concerned about the passage of ships through the area as they have increasingly attracted the attention of maritime criminals such as pirates and smugglers. This study has two objectives, namely to 1) describe the background and the importance of the Malacca Straits to Japan; 2) discuss Japan's contribution and its cooperation with the littoral states. Significantly, this study has found that, in order for Japan to protect its own national interests, it has had to take the necessary steps to strengthen diplomatic relations with littoral states as well as assisting in improving maritime security in the Malacca Straits. Based on empirical evidence, this study proposes several approaches toward improve current regional cooperation mechanisms by addressing common regional security issues.
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Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Due to the Malacca Straits’ strategic centrality in contemporary
regional shipping routes, the Japanese have become very concerned
about the passage of ships through the area as they have increasingly
attracted the attention of maritime criminals such as pirates and
smugglers. This study has two objectives, namely to 1) describe the
background and the importance of the Malacca Straits to Japan; 2)
discuss Japan’s contribution and its cooperation with the littoral
states. Signicantly, this study has found that, in order for Japan to
protect its own national interests, it has had to take the necessary
steps to strengthen diplomatic relations with littoral states as well
as assisting in improving maritime security in the Malacca Straits.
Based on empirical evidence, this study proposes several approaches
toward improve current regional cooperation mechanisms by
addressing common regional security issues.
Keywords: Economy, Japan, national interest, security, Malacca Straits
Kedudukan Selat Melaka sebagai kawasan yang strategik kapal
dagang menyebabkan Jepun sangat mengambil berat terhadap
laluan tersebut. Ini kerana bukan sahaja kapal-kapal dagang yang
melaluinya tetapi ia telah menarik perhatian pihak yang melakukan
jenayah maritim seperti pelanunan dan penyeludupan. Kajian ini
mempunyai dua objektif, iaitu untuk 1) menerangkan latarbelakang
kepentingan laluan Selat Melaka terhadap Jepun; 2) membincangkan
sumbangan Jepun melalui kerjasama maritim dengan negara pesisir.
Dapatan kajian mendapati bahawa demi menjaga kepentingan
nasionalnya, Jepun mengeratkan hubungan diplomatiknya dengan
negara pesisir selain menambahkan peruntukan serta bantuan
untuk meningkatkan tahap keselamatan pelayaran dan maritim di
Selat Melaka. Berdasarkan bukti empirik, kajian ini mencadangkan
Jebat: Malaysian Journal of History, Politics & Strategic Studies, Vol. 41 (2) (December 2014): 80-98
@ School of History, Politics & Strategy, UKM; ISSN 2180-0251 (electronic), 0126-5644 (paper)
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 80
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
beberapa pendekatan untuk menambah baik mekanism kerjasama
dalam menangani isu keselamatan bersama di Selat Melaka.
Katakunci: Jepun, Kepentingan Nasional, Keselamatan Selat Melaka.
In 1960, the Malacca Straits had become a major route for large tankers and the
number had been increasing each year. However at that time, the environmental
conditions in the Straits was still short of many tools for use in navigation. This
is due to lack of country or organization in distributing monetary assistances
to undertake studies or replace old and broken navigational equipments. As
littoral states were concerned- Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore were still
considered as newly independent countries and were struggling with problems
in their respective countries. Japan was the only country rapidly developing
in the industrial eld and required a lot of resources and imported materials
such as oil from the Middle East and Africa. At this time, Japanese national
interests in the Malacca Strait had increased and this had made Japan to be
more involved and committed in assisting the littoral states through the safety
of navigation. The aim of this paper is to describe the background and the
importance of the Malacca Straits to Japan and discuss Japan’s contribution
and its cooperation with the Littoral States. These two questions are important
as they let us know the reason why Japan contributes a lot in term of money
and assistant in Malacca Straits.
Importance of the Malacca Straits to Japan
National interest is one aspect that has always been the axis of the actions of
nations to pursue sustainability in the international system. For the Japanese,
their national interests in the Malacca Straits are based on three factors:
economic, safety of navigation and maritime security.
Economic Factors
Geographically, the Malacca Straits is a strait that connects the Pacic Ocean
and the Indian Ocean. It is Japan’s main routes for trade from Europe and the
Middle East (Rodrigue 2004). Japanese used the Malacca Straits to import 80
per cent of the energy resources and 60 per cent of the food (Muttaqiem 2007).
The pace of economic development and energy sector in Japan has increased
demand for energy resources in the country. According to statistics in 2010, the
use of energy by Japan in the year 2010 was 42 per cent oil, 22 per cent coal, 18
per cent gas, 13 per cent nuclear and other sources of 5 per cent (Siti Zubaidah
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 81
Ismail & Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani 2010).
Until the year 2010, Japan had oil reserves of 44 million barrels per-
day (bbl/d) and gas reserves of 738 billion cubic (Umana 2012). But the amount
was insufcient to cover the daily needs of the country. Thus the Japanese oil
producing’s companies had to engage in oil exploration in other countries such
as Indonesia, Papua New Guine, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Congo.
Nowadays, Japanese-owned companies will invest and hold equity shares
in these countries for certain periods. Often the oil and gas produced will be
sent to Japan as unprocessed oil. Due to these factors, Japan has made large
amout of investments to improve security in the Straits as it wants to ensure
the maritime security in the area (Energy Information Administration 2011).
Malacca Straits is the most important routes in continuing trade
between East and West. This led Japan to take active steps to ensure that the
route is always safe from the threat of maritime crimes such as piracy, robbery
or terrorist. Malacca Straits is not only important to Japan but also to other
countries like China, USA and India (Energy Information Administration
2012). This is because the safety of navigation that starts from the Indian
Ocean, the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea and into the Pacic Ocean
is a major factor that will determine whether a commercial activity can be
done effectively or vice versa. According to records released by the Marine
Department of Malaysia (2013), a total of 70,718 ships passed or traversed
through the Straits in 2007 and 73,538 ships in 2011. From these numbers,
13.8 million bbl./d of crude oil through the Malacca Straits in 2007 and the
number had been increased to 15.2 million bbl./d in 2011 (Inderjit 2012). 90
per cent of the energy is carried petroleum. From these statistics, the increasing
demand for energy increases each year is in line with the increase in industrial
activities in Japan.
Malacca Straits is also considered the closest convenient routes to
bring goods from the Middle East to Japan instead of using two alternatives
through Straits of Sunda and the Straits of Lombok. There are two main
reasons why the Malacca Straits is often the preferred choice for Japanese
trading companies. First, it can reduce costs and save time travel (Feldhoff
2011). If the shipping companies chose to use the Straits of Sunda or the Straits
of Lombok, they should add 30 yen per kilometre for travel (Sien 1998), or
USD 1.2 billion to add travel time to 2 weeks of using oil tankers (Wan Siti
Adibah, Zinatul Ashiqin, Noor Inayah & Noridayu 2012). Second, the Straits
of Sunda is also a relatively shallow for large ships (Evers & Gerke 2005).
The situation is not ideal and can pose a risk to ships such as being stuck or
bumping into objects that are oating in the sea. Along the Straits of Malacca,
there are also many ports for ship docking, repair or refuelling.
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 82
Table 1: Japan Crude Oil Import-Export from January to September 2013
Jet Oil
Gas Oil
B + C
W a x
Import 199,835 1,992,445 11,387 21,991 544,047 7,161 10,869 192 814,307 6,367,044
Eksport 63,658 - 879,008 1,198,351 551,727 69,409 - 3,562 20,298 -
Note: 1kl (kilolitre) = 6.29bbl; LPG = Liqueed petroleum gas; *LNG =
Liqueed natural gas
Source: Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry 2013
Table 1 shows the type of crude oil imported and exported by Japan
during the year 2013. LPG is the most widely imported oil and gas oil is the
most abundant oil exports. Based on the gure, Japan is importing crude oil
more than exporting. Japan has to import the oil as the growing demands for
use in the country have increased and supply in the country is not able to meet
the numbers.
Along the Malacca Straits there are several ports equipped with
various facilities including refueling, docking, ship repairing and warehouse
for storing goods. Among the available ports in the Straits of Malacca are the
port of Singapore in Singapore, Port Klang, Johor and Penang in Malaysia, and
Belawan in Indonesia (Pillai 2005). The existence of ports along the Straits
have indirectly attracted many more ships to pass through the area. It was
found that the ships that have gone through a long journey often require to be
anchored for few hours due to ship maintenance and logistic purposes.
Penang Port is located in the west side of Malaysia. This port is one
of the important ports in this country as it is one of the larger ports with 120
metres depth. The Port also has various terminals for different ships carrying
different goods/items like dangerous goods (DG), large items, bulk and oil.
Port Klang is situated in the southwestern part of the Peninsula Malaysia.
It is the largest and most important port in Malaysia. The port is divided
into two parts, North Port and West Port. North port terminal is provided to
receive ships carrying goods that are fragile and dangerous. In addition, it also
provides a terminal for dry bulk handling. West Port is the terminal for oil
and transshipment cargo. Johor Port is situated on the East side (through the
entrance port of Pasir Gudang or Port Tanjung Langsat). Johor Port consists of
two entry points east and west. The entrance from the west side is through the
Tanjung Pelepas (a tax-free zone). Johor Port provides various facilities to the
traders. This port is the second most important port after Port Klang. This port
has a depth between 9 to 15 meters and its terminal width measured between
60 to 183 meters in length.
Singapore Port also offers a lot of fasilities for traders who passed
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 83
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
through the Malacca Straits. Although Singapore is a small country but it has
the international standard fasilities and is recognized as among the best port
in the world (Bustelo 2005). There are three main areas that provide a variety
of services, namely Jurong, Sembawang and Pasir Panjang. For example, at
Jurong Port, it can accommodate up to 23 berths with each area covering 4,545
meters. Maximum depth for anchored ships is 16 meters and a maximum size
of 150,000 metric tones (DWT). The port also provides warehousing facility
which has an area of 280,000 square meters. Belawan Port is situated in Medan.
It is a medium-sized port. Ships that enter this port can reach up to 150 meters
in length. The route has a depth of 9.4 meters, and the port has a depth of 11.0
meters. Depth at the terminal is 9.4 meters while the depth at the jetty reaching
11.0 meters. This port offers repairing of electrical and electronic parts of a
ship. The port also offers other logistics such as refueling, water adding, engine
repair, yard (deck) and other navigation equipments.
Japan is the third largest country in vehicles manufacturing in the
world after the USA and China. Japan issued a total of 7,934,057 vehicles
in 2009, 9,942,711 in 2012 and 4,660,946 units of vehicles in the rst six
months of 2013 (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles
2013). Japan is also a producer of high-tech electronic products such as optical,
semiconductor, ber, biotechnology and robotics.
Table 2: Japan Import-Export and KDNK-KNK 2001 – 2012
The value of merchandise
(Import billion $USD)
The value of merchandise
(Export bilion $USD)
2001 348.6 402.6 26 195 26 593
2003 383.5 472.0 27 487 27 965
2006 579.1 646.7 31 796 32 700
2009 552.0 580.7 32 119 32 980
2012 792.9 856.9 35,855 36,938
Notes: GDP-Gross Domestic Product; GNP- Gross National Product
Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD 2013)
Table 2 shows the import-export trade of Japan from 2001 to 2012.
Each year the exports of Japan are high and increasing. Although the value of
import of goods is less but it still shows that many transactions has taken place.
Based on the import-export occurring in Japan, it can be assumed that this
activity depends on the use of the maritime route based on the yield of Japan to
produce goods like cars that need sea transport to bring to importing country.
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 84
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
Safety of navigation
As a country that has important commercial interests in the Straits, Japan must
ensure that the safety of navigation in the area is in the best condition. Safety
of navigation is:
“… concerned with aids to navigation, contruction and equipment
of vessels, manning from the safety standpoint, rules for the
prevention of collision, handling of dangerous cargoas, marine
safety procedures and requirements, hydrographic information, log
books and navigational records, marine casualty investigations,
salvage and rescue and any other matters directly affecting maritime
safety”.(Article 29, IMO 1948)
According to Arikawa (2014), the safety factor of the navigation has prompted
the Japanese government and some non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
to give assistance to the littoral states that have constraints in terms of nancial
as well as expertise (Arikawa 2014). Among the matters that had been problem
in the 1960s 1990s is were to ensure that the shipping equipments were in
good condition, the removal of the identied wrecks from the sea lanes, lack of
Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV), exercise ships and hydro-graphic maps that
are not completed. In addition there are also timeworned and damaged buoys
as well as beacons that are not working and need to be replaced with new ones.
Without it, the risks for large ships due to the risk of stuck in shallower water
would be high.
In the era of 1960s to 1980s, many of the technologies that have yet
to be fully utilized such as Automatic Identication System (AIS), a tracking
system and Long Range Identication and Tracking (LRITS) to facilitate the
ships to identify each other. The lack of these tracking devices may turn out
disastrous. For instance, a distress boat in the ocean would face difculties in
getting assistance because the boats are not equipped with the communication
devices. These situations would make the aid could not be reached on time
and they are likely to be swept away on the high seas that would eventualy
make the distressed boat overturned, leaked, lost, damaged, collisions, re or
sink for that matter. This scenario would often happen to a small-sized tow
and shermen’s boat due to lack of sophisticated and modern navigational
At present, Japan is still continuing its contribution towards the
betterment of the littoral states. This is because of the increasing ships passing
through the Malacca Straits had created problems of trafc congestion. There
are times when some ships docked for several days before being allowed to
pass through the Straits. (Sometimes it will cause delays and may affect trade
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 85
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
in which the exporter has to pay to the importers due to delays. In addition,
due to the increased awareness for rescue victims who were involved in the
case of drowning in the ocean, Japan and the littoral states need to cooperate.
As for this, the efciency of the Coast Guard from Japan and as well as other
maritime enforcement agencies from the respective littoral states needs to be
shared, learned and enhanced.
Maritime Security
According to Till (2009) maritime security is:
“Good order at sea,” whereby the sea as a resource, as a medium
for trade and information exchange, and as an environment, faces
“risks and threats to the good order on which their continued
contribution to human development depends”.
Dishonesty in the ocean is a crime of concern to the merchants as criminal
motives are diverse even though their mode of operation is quite similar.
Incidents such as robbery, piracy and launching attacks on ships were among
the crimes that are common at the sea. The number of incidents had increased
tremendously especially after the Tsunami calamity in 2006. According to the
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), most of the pirates who
were captured are Indonesian who are affected by natural disasters as well
as other hardships that they suffered. Thus they were involved in criminal
activities to support their families back home. In spite of this, there are also few
incidents involving tankers that had been attacked by pirates and this had made
littoral states’ governments and organizations to seek for solutions in curbing
the problem. Although the incident was not as frequently happens in the other
sea lanes but precautions should be taken at all times to avoid such case to
recur as it will denitely involve ransom demands and maintenance costs.
In this modern era, attempted attacks by pirates are becoming more
terrifying when it comes to the use of dangerous weapons. There are cases the
pirates act more drastically by taking over the ship and leaving the victims
in a secluded area. For example, the pirates attacked on the ship MT Nautica
Kluang in 2002 near the small Iyu Island, in the south of the Malacca Straits
(Jabatan Perdana Menteri Malaysia 2010) and a tug boat Usda Jaya near
Dumai (Sabirin Ja’afar 2007). Attackers used an M16 rie, an AK47 and a
knife reefer. According to a report issued by ICC-IMB a total of 28 attacks
took place at Malacca Straits in 2003, 37 attacks in 2004 and dropped to 12
attacks in 2005.
There are also other crimes in the straits such as human trafcking,
illegal immigration, smuggling of animals and prohibited goods (Jabatan
Perdana Menteri Malaysia 2009). According to Adon (2014) maritime crimes
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 86
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
occur on a small scale, but it should be obdytucted before these activities
become unable to control in the future. There are also cases where illegal
migrants would make Malaysia as their transit point before proceeding to other
countries such as Australia.
Japan maritime Partnership with the littoral states
Japan commenced its assistance to the littoral in 1969 with the establishment
of the Malacca Straits Council (MSC). Since that year, the Japanese has
continued to be active in supporting Littoral States to manage Malacca Straits
wisely. There are several agencies that directly play a role in Malacca Straits
and related to the Japanese government. These agencies would be in great
assistance in the issue of safety of navigation and those that are helpful in
addressing the maritime security issues.
Safety of navigation
There are several agencies from Japan that are involved directly in assisting the
littoral states in maintaining security in the Malacca Straits.
1) Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT),
The Ministry has a special bureau to maintain the issues related to maritime
affairs and Malacca Straits. This special bureau established as a result of the
increasing number of ships passing through the Malacca Straits every day
and the facilities of navigation was insufcient around 1950s. At that time,
the navigation charts were not fully functional as the Littoral States do not
have the capabilities in terms of technology and nance to conduct research
on the areas. According to Fukuhara (2014), the Japanese government is very
committed to assist the Littoral States as the Straits is so important to their
Table 3: Japan’s contribution to the Safety of Navigation in the Malacca
Hydrographic Survey and Production of Navigational Charts (1969 - 1975, 1978, 1996 -
Installation and maintenance of Aids to Navigation (1969 – now)
Clearance of navigable Channels (1973- 1981)
Donation of an oil skimming vessel and buoy tenders (1975, 1976, 2002, 2003)
Tide and current observation (1976 – 1979)
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 87
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
Donation of Revolving Fund for combating oil spill from ships (1981)
Source: MLIT 2014
Table 3 shows the contribution by Japanese Government to help the
Littoral States to enhance the safety of navigation in Malacca Straits. There
are two types of contribution: nancial and advisory assistants. According to
Fukuhara (2014), since 2008- 2012, Japanese Government had provided funds
in the amount of USD 0.92 million for the navigation facilities in the Straits.
Most of the funding had been used to change the navigational aids like buoys,
beacons and maintenance of lighthouse. MLIT had done two to three surveys
every year to help the Littoral States in doing research about hydrographic.
This survey had been conducted together with Malacca Straits Council (MSC)
and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Hydrographic survey
is essential to the voyages and traders as this will provide the Navigational
Charts that would provide them with the appropriate informations about the
depth, geographical structure and winds in that area. On the other hand, Japan
had also donated 41 buoys and beacons at 30 different locations which cost
5.4 billion yen (Kato 2014). To enhance the efciency of technical staffs of
Littoral states, MLIT had conducted several workshops to help them to gain
knowledge about the new navigation technologies.
Table 4: Preliminary Surveys by MLIT in Malacca Straits
2010 One Fathom bank Resilient Light Beacon (South-West),
Gosong Pasir Light Buoy, Sepat Resilient Light Beacon
2011 Raleigh Shoal Light Beacon, Rob Ray Bank Light Beacon
2012 One Fathom Bank Resilient Light Beacon (North- South)
2013 Off Tanjung Medang Light Bouy, Pyramid Shoal Light Buoy
2014 Helen Mars Light Beacon, Batu Berhanti Light Buoy
Source: MLIT 2014
Table 4 shows that the preliminary survey in the Malacca Straits
before the decision to change the new navigation aids occurred. From the
result of this survey, the 10 years Plan Maintenance Program – PMP have been
built. PMP plan is to support the other maintenance plans that had already been
done. The personnel from the Littoral States that are involved in this plan are
enhancing their abilities to conduct the future plan. Japanese Government also
had conducted various technical workshops to give more knowledge to them
so that they would be more efence. This effort hopefully will help the Littoral
States manage their own facilities in the future.
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 88
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
2) Nippon Foundation
Nippon Foundation is a Non- Governmental Organization (NGO). It was
established in 1962 by Ryoichi Sasakawa with the mission to enhance the
maritime development in the aspect of navigation. In 1969, the Nippon
Foundation decided to give donation to Malacca Straits Council (established
in 1969) as a mission to improve this vital sea lanes in term of safety of
navigation and maritime security. Sasakawa believed the improvement in
safety of navigation along the lanes will protect Japanese economy as 80 per
cent of its oil imported using this channel. But not only maritime aspect, the
Nippon Foundation had widened its focus to the social development, healthy
and education (Arikawa 2014). At the beginning of it establishment, the
Nippon Foundation has funded the navigation facilities in the Malacca Straits
about USD155.3 million (Nippon Foundation 2014).
Table 5: Funding by Nippon Foundation (USD Million)
No Items Sum of
1 Installation/ Replacement/ Maintenance of Navigational Aids USD26.7
2 Construction of Buoy, Tender Ships, Training Ship USD28.2
3 Clearance of Navigable Channels USD11.5
4Research & Development (Hydrograc survey and production of navigational
5OSPAR Project (Oil Spill Preparedness and Response)USD8.0
6 Network Building (Meeting of Heads of Asian Coast Guards) USD1.6
7 Others (Nippon Maritime Center) USD53.1
Total USD155.3
Source: Nippon Foundation 2014
Table 5 shows the funding from Nippon Foundation. This body had
not prepared any expert as assistant to the activities in the Malacca Straits.
This is because they do not want to interfere in the Littoral States affairs. In
2002, the Nippon Foundation had provided Buoy Tender Vessel (PEDOMAN)
to Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). In 2003, the Nippon
Foundation had given the same vessel to Indonesia. The vessel was called as
JADAYAT. These two vessels had been used for the emplacement, maintenance
and management of the aids to navigation in the Straits. In 2006, once again
Nippon Foundation had given a training ship called MARLIN to Malaysia.
This is one of the larger assets that belong to MMEA. The purpose of this ship
to was to be a training and education ship for MMEA.
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 89
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
Besides that, the Nippon Foundation had funded several conventions
and meetings such as the Meeting of Heads of Asian Coast Guards (HACGAM)
in 2004 and 2013. To enhance the ability of Coast Guards personnels in the
ocean, the training had been given to the new ofcers. These ofcers will be
attending maritime courses in Japan, together with the presence of the Japan
Coast Guard (JCG). The aims of this course are to build the networkings
among the young ofcers, to improve the safety of navigation and to enhance
capacity building for youth in the developing countries.
In 2007, Nippon Foundation had announced that it will establish a
new fund known as the Aids of Navigation Fund (ANF). This fund is to provide
nancial assistance to cater for the 1/3 of the cost for the rst ve years plan
after its establishment. In the rst ANF meeting at Penang in 2008, an amount
of USD 1.351 millon had been contributed for the conduct of the assessment
survey. In 2009, the Nippon Foundation had contributed USD 2.5 million to
ANF, USD 1.39 million in 2010, USD 1.0 million in 2011, USD 0.66 million
in 2012 and USD 0.4 million in 2013. According to Arikawa (2014) Nippon
Foundation may be not contribute anymore in the ANF after 2013 as this fund
had received a fundings from other stakeholders such as UAE, Saudi Arabia
and Korea.
3) Malacca Straits Council (MSC)
Malacca Straits Council was established in 1969 because of four reasons. First,
due to the lack of navigation aids in the Malacca Straits in 1960s. Second,
in 1960s, the Malacca Straits had become the center and focus for maritime
activities and had led many tankers by using this route to send oil to Japan.
Third, the demand from the Japan Captains’ Association & Juganichi Kai, who
requested for the Japanese Government to nd a solution to handle navigational
problem along the Malacca Straits. They urged the government to establish a
special body to conduct a survey for navigation in the Malacca Straits. This is
due to the difculties they encountered during their sail from Japan to Middle
East using this straits. Fourth, the Torrey Cangyon accident that occurred in
1967. The tanker had caused the huge scaled of water pollution around England
coast and as a result, a huge amount of crude oil owed out to the sea where
the layer of the oils in the surface thickens about 30 metre (Malacca Straits
Council 2014). After discussing the problem, the government and the Maritime
Industrial Owner had agreed to establish a Non- Governmental Organization
council to handle this safety of navigation issues namely known as the Malacca
Straits Council.
Figure 1 shows the establishment of the Malacca Strais Council.
The fundings are received from the Nippon Foundation, Japan Maritime
Foundation and other stakeholders like The Japanese Ship Owners Association,
Petroleum Association of Japan, The General Insurance Association of Japan
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 90
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
and The Shipbuilders Association of Japan (Ho 2009). Through the MSC, a lot
of navigation aids had been replaced and upgraded. The activities conducted
by MSC involved surveys, grill operations, clearance of navigable channels,
replacement and maintenance of buoy (Rakish 2008). MSC is also discussing
with the Littoral States for the future plan of the Malacca Straits. According to
Blair, Chen & Hagt (2006), Malacca Strait Council need to be an organization
that is not only managing issues of safety on navigation but also on the economy
and security in the Malacca Straits as well .This will make the users of the
Straits to participate and contribute to the Malacca Strait Council in every
aspect such as monetory funding, provide training and fasilities. It is hoped
that with this cooperation among the user states, this will build the capacity
building among themselves. In addition to this, the sharing of informations
will make the joint operations more effectively to obstruct smuggling or piracy
activities easier.
Figure 1: Structure of Malacca Straits Council
Source: Malacca Straits Council 2014
4) Other Agencies
There are two other agencies which are involved in the Malacca Straits
namely Japan Association of Marine Safety (JAMS) and Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA). JAMS was established in 1958 as a Non
Governmental organization but strictly receives its command under the
Ministry of Transportation and Japan Coast Guard. JAMS is an organization
which focusing on marine accidents and pollution. Nippon Foundation had
supported JAMS to conduct a study related on that issues. The result of the
study would hopefully enhance the marine trafc problem in the Straits and
prevent marine pollution in the area. JICA is a Non Governmental organization.
It is a supporting agency that helps the Littoral States if they need assistances.
Malacca Straits Council
The Japan Maritime
Nippon Foundation
The Japanese Ship owners Association
Petroleum Association of Japan
The General Insurance Association of Japan
The Shipbuilders Association of Japan
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 91
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
JICA was established in 1974 and had offered various technical assistance and
development funding, known as the Ofcial Development Assistant- ODA.
JAMS and JICA is not an organization which are established to focusing on
Malacca Straits issues but as a organization who related with the maritime
activities, these organization indirectly will conduct a research and assist the
littoral states in some relevant issues only.
Maritime Security
Under this theme, Japanese government had assigned the Japan Coast Guard
– JCG to assist the Littoral States’s Coast Guard namely Malaysia Maritime
Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Indonesia maritime Security Coordinating
Board (BAKORKAMLA) and Singapore Police Coast Guard (SPCG). Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had given funding to enhance the maritime security
in 2006 especially in the issues of terrorism. Under this programme, Indonesia
had received three ships in 2007 and Malaysia had also received 473 million
Yen I terms of funding to increase the MMEA facilities (Tsukekawa 2009). A
lot of facilities had upgraded from this funding such as repairing patrol boats
as well as purchasing new boats. Singapore is the only Littoral States that do
not need assistance or aids from Japan because as a develop country which has
strong economy, Singapore can prepare its fasilities by on its own (Kato 2014).
But Singapore still cooperates with other states in Search and Rescue (SAR)
training in Malacca Straits. Indonesia is a country that really needs help from
Japan in many aspect (Fukuhara 2014). Because of this reason, an expert from
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) helped Indonesia to enhance
its efency in BAKORKAMLA.
Japan Coast Guard got a better attention from the Littoral States
as it was not military body (Simon 2011). Japan Coast Guard had a lot of
experiences to settle of maritime cases in the ocean. Because of this reason,
this agency became the suitable body to help the Littoral States’s Coast Guard
(Samuel 2007). To begin with, the Japanese Government had offered a course
and training to ofcers before they were appointed to do some exercise on their
own. The courses that they are required to be involved consists of Counterpart
Training, Maritime Law Enforcement, CP Training for Operations of Aircraft,
Training and Education Of Air Rescue, Maritime Search AND Rescue And
Disaster and Preventive For Policy Planner (Jabatan Perdana Menteri Malaysia
2010). As only a user country, Japan might not be able to give full focus on
the Malacca Straits activities because of the sovereignty of the Malacca Straits
under the Littoral States. Yet, Japan still can help the Littoral States if the
countries asked Japan for their assistance.
According to Adon (2013), Littoral States will receive aids from
Japan as long as Japan does not interfere in the internal affairs of the countries.
The Littoral States are always welcoming the user states to assist or increase
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 92
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
the safety of navigation in Malacca Straits with certain conditions. As Japan
has a huge economic interest on that area, it is wise for Japan to feel concerned
about the safety of the Malacca Straits as well.
Figure 2: Maritime Crimes in Malacca Straits (2006- 2011)
Source: APMM (2012)
Figure 2 shows the maritime crimes in Malacca Straits from 2006
to 2011. According to the gure, there are signs of deations in the crimes.
However, there are still cases that occur such as sea robbery, piracy, smuggling,
and illegal migrants. For the case of piracy, the pirates would always attack
vessels that are anchoring and among other thing that would be in their interest
are such as spareparts, laptops and money, communication equipment like
echo sounder and Global Positioning System-GPS (Jabatan Perdana Menteri
Malaysia 2013). Eventhough the statistics of crimes that occurred in Malacca
Straits is not high compared to other straits in the world but the Coast Guard
should take into account of the threat posed by the pirates as they are in
possession modern weapons such as AK47 and M16 Rie used during the
For the Search and Rescue operations (SAR), it consists of two parts
– lost of person and problem from vessel. The escalation of assets and facilities
had become a main factor to rescue the victims instantly. The SAR’s operation
in this straits became high as a lot of small boats especially used by shermen
are not in the proper standard and this however, increased the risk for accidents
to occur. Small boat would be in danger if they are near to any tankers or bulk
ships that may result in collision by these huge vessels.
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 93
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
Table 6: Distress Status from 2006 – 2011 in Malacca Straits
CASE 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 TOTAL (BY CASE)
SAFE 342 305 226 424 442 441 2180
LOST 15 42 60 110 113 50 390
DEAD 8 36 34 40 22 36 176
TOTAL (BY YEAR) 365 383 320 574 577 527 2746
Source: Modied from APMM Annual Report 2012
Table 6 shows that the victims involved in the distress in Malacca
Straits from 2006 to 2011. Compared to the lost and dead cases, the victims
had being rescue increasing by year. The escalation of technology and maritime
fasilities has caused the SAR became easier. The case of lost or dead in the
ocean usually had involved the victims who had no communication equipment
and navigation aids like safety jackets and buoy.
Japanese government and its subsidiaries had put a lot of efforts to enhance
the safety of navigation in the Malacca Straits. The importance of Malacca
Straits to Japan in terms of economy aspect cannot be denied. As for this, Japan
had been funding a lot of projects to make sure that its national interests will
continue to be adhered, realized and met, and Japan would also continuously
provide the necessary fundings, trainings and assistances for the Littoral States
to ensure the navigation safety of the Straits. At the beginning, the Littoral
states were sceptical to receive any aids provided by Japan. But as Japan
proclaimed that the importance of their economy is very much dependable
on the safety of the straits for its energy route, littoral States had agreed to
accept the aids with condition that is for Japan not to interfere in the countries
internal affairs. Yet, it is still uncertain on how far and how long will Japan
keep providing aids to the Littoral States.
Cooperation between Government or Non Governmental organization
(NGO) from Japan is in a good stakes. But some approaches need to be
ractied in order to increase the mutual understanding between Japan and
Littoral States. Japan had been cooperating with the Littoral States since 1960s
but of course, there are always some issues on the rise. For example, a lot of
NGO ofces like JAMS and Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating
Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) had been located
in Singapore. This however, had become a puzzle why only Singapore had
been nominated as a strategic location for those agencies.
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 94
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
Malacca Straits Council (MSC) as a representative of Japanese
government for the Littoral States still has no ofce in any of the three
countries. MSC should consider the needs for ofce in these countries as well.
To have an ofce in one of the Littoral States will make the coordination of
the activities smoother. The regular meetings could be conducted at one of
the Littoral States vicinity and this would save a lot of cost by not having it
in Tokyo. Besides that, Japan has many agencies and NGOs that could offer
contributions for the betterment of the Malacca Straits. For some particular
reason, this could always caused confusions towards other parties. For example,
when the Japanese Government had allocated some fundings to the Malacca
Straits Council, the Japanese Government would directly confer the money to
MLIT and MOFA and this would defeit the purpose of MSC for not receiving
the fund directly. Anyway, it is hoped that this issue could be readdressed again
for the Japanese Government to consider allocating the fundings through one
channel to avoid misunderstanding in the future.
The differences of interest between the Littoral States and Japan
had caused a problem for sometimes. As a user states, Japan will always be
eminent regarding its national interests. But for the Littoral States, the question
of sovereignty should become the prime avenue that should be highlighted. For
example in 2004, Japan had shown its full support of the Regional Maritime
Security Initiative (RMSI) where military ships would be used to counter
against the terrorism activities at sea. The thoughtlessness of Japan about this
issue had caused Malaysia and Indonesia to view Japan as a belligerent nation.
As a matter of fact, Japan should realize on how to distinguish its national
interest according to various situations. Japan should also be more thoughtful
about the Littoral States policies which are more conservative regarding the
issue. Cooperation and mutual understanding need to be strengthened as these
countries are depending on each other in terms of safety of navigation and
maritime security.
Adon b. Hj Shalan. Director General APMM South Region. The interview
was conducted on 8 July 2013 at APMM South Region Headquater,
Johor Bharu.
Arikawa, T. Director General of Maritime Special Project Team, Maritime
Affairs Department, Nippon Foundation. The interview was conducted
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Working Paper (WP) 38/2005.
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Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 97
Cooperation and Contributions Toward Littoral States
Biographical Notes
Noraini Zulkii ( is a Phd Candidate at
Program of International relations and Strategy, Department of history, Politic
and strategy, National University of Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor,
Sharifah Munirah Alatas ( (PhD) is a Senior Lecturer
at Program of International relations and Strategy, Department of history,
Politic and strategy, National University of Malaysia, 43600 UKM Bangi,
Selangor, Malaysia.
Zarina Othman ( (PhD) is a Associate Professor and Head
of Programme, Program of International relations and Strategy Department
of history, Politic and strategy, National University of Malaysia, 43600 UKM
Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia.
Jebat Volume 41 (2) (December 2014) Page | 98
Article: Noraini Zulkii, Sharifah Munirah Alatas and Zarina Othman
  • ... The (Zulkifli, Alatas, & Othman, 2014). Until 15 October 2009, ANF had received funding and contributions amounting to USD4.67 million. ...
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