Tokyo – Japan, which has a major stake in the security of the Malacca Strait, will be doing its part to help curb piracy in the area by providing the Indonesian Navy with three brand-new, high-speed patrol boats. The boats are expected to be delivered by 2007. It will be the first time that Japan is giving such vessels to one of the three nations that border the strait.
Indonesian military spokesman Ahmad Yani Basuki said: "We appreciate the gesture which will go a long way in building up our capacity to secure the strait."
According to the Asahi Shimbun, the vessels are likely to be medium-size patrol boats measuring 20m in length and costing about 700 million yen each. Due toJapan's strict ban on arms exports, the boats are likely to be presented to Indonesia unarmed.
The request for the vessels came from Indonesia last year as part of its requests for official development assistance from Japan.
A spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Mr Hatsuhisa Takashima, said Japan had initially planned to provide Indonesia with patrols boats that it had been using.
"But considering that speed and manoeuvrability are important in dealing with pirates in the strait, we decided it would be better to give new boats to Indonesia," he said.
Mr Takashima added that Japan had no plans to provide assistance in air surveillance over the strait in future.
Japan has much reason to be concerned with the problem of piracy in the Malacca Strait since 90 per cent of Middle East oil bound for the land of the rising sun passes through the waterway.
* Tokyo giving Jakarta three new patrol boats (The Straits Times, July 21)