For Japan, which is surrounded by the sea on all sides, the "sea" is a traffic route for marine transportation and a place for producing marine resources and for other activities, such as fishing. For people who do not work at the sea, the sea has long been popular as a place of relaxation for enjoying marine leisure time.
On the other hand, for Japan, the "sea" is also a border, and is a place where various criminal acts, such as terrorism, which threatens security, smuggling, illegal migration, and poaching are perpetrated which disturb the fishing order.
The JCG endeavors to prevent and control various criminal acts committed at sea, aiming to realize a safe and secure Japanese sea.
Terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists and those who are believed to have been influenced by their ideas are occurring frequently all over the world. Terrorist organizations, such as ISIL, have named countries, including Japan, as targets of terrorism. The current terrorism situation is still very difficult. In addition, terrorism using a drone has also become a concern as a new type of terrorism.
The JCG have been taking counter-terrorism measures, such as surveillance and warning by patrol vessels and aircraft, collection of related information, and measures at the water's edge through close cooperation with related organizations. In addition to these conventional measures, we are now promoting counter-terrorism measures for the upcoming "Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games" in collaboration with the public and private sectors, and we will take all possible counter- terrorism measures.
Current State of Maritime Crime
Current state in 2019
In 2019, the number of maritime crime referred cases was 7,587, a decrease by 7 from the previous year. Looking at the number of referred cases in terms of law, violations of maritime related laws account for the largest number at 3,152 cases or 41.5% of the total, followed by those of fishery related laws and regulations at 2,404 (31.7%), those of the Penal Code at 824 (10.9%), and those of the maritime environment related laws at 749 (9.9%).
For the maritime related laws, violations of Ship Safety Act related laws, such as navigation of uninspected ships, overcapacity, etc., account for the largest number at 1,184 cases (37.6%). For the fishery related laws and regulations, so-called domestic poaching offenses, such as the infringement of fishing rights, unauthorized fishing, and fishing outside permitted areas or periods, account for the largest number at 2,364 cases (98.3%). For the Penal Code, offenses causing danger to ship traffic, such as collision and grounding on shore (risk of traffic in business due to negligence), account for 633 cases (76.8%) and offenses of negligent injury, such as injuring passengers, account for 113 cases (13.7%). For the maritime environment related laws, violations of the law concerning the prevention of marine pollution and marine disasters that prohibit the discharge of oil and harmful liquid substances from ships account for a large number at 411 cases (54.9%).
We have sent 75 cases of violations of drugs and firearm related laws, which regulates illegal imports of drugs and firearms (so- called smuggling) and illegal carrying of cutlery, and 18 cases of violations of immigration related laws, which regulates illegal immigration (so-called illegal migration) and illegal employment.
Measures against Domestic Poaching
The abundant marine resources in the waters around Japan are by no means inexhaustible. Rules have been set for limiting the catch and fishing methods, areas and periods in order to maintain the balance of the ecosystem and prevent the depletion of marine resources. However, there is no end to illegal fishing by some fishermen who do not follow the rules or overfishing by gangsters aiming to secure funds.
In order to respond appropriately to crackdown requests from local fishermen who are damaged by poaching, the JCG collaborates with related organizations and local governments, and conducts crackdowns according to the characteristics of each region to maintain the fishery order.
Measures against Illegal Fishing
by Foreign Fishing Boats
In Japan's territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), operations by foreign fishing boats are regulated by law to maintain a stable supply of marine resources in the future. In the EEZ, a fishery agreement has been signed with neighboring countries and rules have been established based on it. However, there are endless incidents of overfishing of Japan's precious marine resources due to illegal fishing by malicious foreign fishing boats that do not follow the rules.
The JCG conducts strict surveillance and control in order to maintain the fishing order in Japan's territorial sea and EEZ, and is working to eradicate illegal fishing by foreign fishing boats in cooperation with related ministries and agencies.
Measures against Smuggling and Illegal Migration
In recent years, smuggling is carried in the form of ship-to-ship cargo transfer (delivery of cargo at sea), smuggling using a container cargo, and smuggling by seamen and passengers on a cruise ship. Their techniques are becoming bolder and more sophisticated. On the other hand, illegal migration is carried out in the form of illegal migration of several persons on board a small ship or cargo ship or illegal landing of a seaman with a history of deportation.
Their techniques tend to be less bold but more sophisticated. Behind these smuggling and illegal migration offenses, international criminal organizations are sometimes involved.
The JCG strictly controls such smuggling and illegal migration offenses that disturb Japan's security and legal order, and is working to prevent smuggling of drugs and firearms and blocks smugglers and stowaways at the water's edge.
Countermeasures against Suspicious or Spy Ships
Since its inauguration in 1948, the JCG has confirmed 21 suspicious or spy ships. As seen in the 2001 spy ship case in the southwestern water of Kyushu, these suspicious or spy ships are likely to be involved in serious crimes, such as the transportation of stimulants and the illegal immigration of operatives. It is important to prevent these activities that threaten the security of the country.
The JCG uses patrol vessels and aircraft to conduct warning and surveillance of suspicious ships, and through various training, strives to improve its ability to respond to these ships appropriately upon discovery.
The number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery of ships (hereinafter referred to as "pirates") around the world has been decreasing in recent years due to the hard work of countries around the world and maritime officials. However, threats, such as pirates, still exist off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and in the Southeast Asian waters. For Japan, which relies on marine transportation for most of its major trade, ensuring the safety of navigating vessels is crucial and extremely important for the stability of socioeconomics and people's lives.
Under these circumstances, the JCG are implementing the following anti-piracy measures: Coast guard officers are on board the MSDF's escort vessel dispatched to combat piracy, and provide support for improving law enforcement capabilities of the coast guard agencies of coastal states that combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and in South Asia.