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The BBC's Jonathan Head
"Most of the pirates are getting away with their crimes"
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Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Asian nations tackle piracy
Half of all piracy cases take place in south-east Asia
By Charles Scanlon in Tokyo

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori has opened a conference with other Asian countries in Tokyo to discuss the growing incidence of piracy and other attacks on shipping.

Japan has proposed joint action against pirates in south-east Asia following recent attacks on Japanese ships.

Officials from 16 nation countries are attending the meeting, which comes amid concern about a steep rise in piracy in east Asia.

Japanese PM Mr Mori
Japanese leader Yoshiro Mori raised his country's concerns
Mr Mori said attacks by pirates in south-east Asian waters were becoming more frequent and were affecting the prosperity of the whole of Asia.

He stressed the need for more co-operation between Asian countries to combat the problem.

International agencies say that more than half of all piracy cases take place in south-east Asia.

The number of attacks on shipping in the region rose sharply last year to nearly 160 cases.

Most of these took place off Indonesia in shipping lanes crucial for Japanese trade.

Coastguard patrol

Japan proposed the conference last year after a series of high-profile attacks on Japanese ships.

Japan is reported to have proposed a role for its own coastguard in joint patrols off the Indonesian coast.

Pirates sign
Modern pirates operate differently from the past but can be still as ruthless
That may be considered at the conference, although it raises important security considerations for Asian countries which are still mindful of Japanese aggression during World War II.

Japanese officials have said they want to see the creation of an Asian coastguard body, as well as more support for shipping companies.

The Asian economic crisis has been blamed for the rapid increase in piracy, particularly in Indonesian waters.

A Malaysian representative at the conference said lack of funds could also prevent an adequate response.

It is an indication that if Japan wants better security for its ships, it is going to have to pay for it.

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24 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Modern pirates: Armed and ruthless
22 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese pirates sentenced to death
03 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
'China letting pirates go free'
03 Feb 99 | Asia-Pacific
South East Asia: piracy hot-spot
08 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asia mulls piracy measures
28 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
China executes pirates
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