Countries Working Together for Free and Open Seas1st Coast Guard Global Summit Held on September 14
The first Coast Guard Global Summit, attended by 35 countries and territories representing Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Oceana, and three international organizations, was held on September 14 in Tokyo. A welcoming reception, attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was also held on September 12 at the Akasaka Palace State Guest House. Prime Minister Abe welcomed the attendees, noting, “We are witnessing significant changes in the natural environment, including the increasing scale of natural disasters due to climate change. The international situation is also undergoing dramatic changes, with terrorism and extremism becoming global threats. Due to these global changes the threats and dangers we face are increasing all around the world. Our invaluable seas are not an exception,” and adding, “I hope that the peace and prosperity of the seas will continue to be protected with your active efforts.”
Global summit builds on previous regional events
The Japan Coast Guard and The Nippon Foundation held the first summit for Asian coast guard leaders in Tokyo in 2004, to focus on the issues of piracy, maritime accidents, and preserving the maritime environment. Summits have been held annually since then, attended by roughly 20 countries and territories, with a broader range of themes including illegal activities and human resource development. This year, the summit was expanded to include coast guard leaders from around the world. In his remarks welcoming the participants, The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa expressed his desire “To continue to work with the Japan Coast Guard to hold more summits like this in the future.”
This year’s global summit featured three sessions on themes that need to be addressed at the global level – Maritime Safety and Environmental Protection; Maritime Security; and Capacity Building – as well as a keynote speech, other remarks, and the adoption of a Chairman’s Summary that confirmed the importance of strengthening cooperation and expanding dialog beyond existing regional frameworks. Although the sessions were closed to the public, the session on maritime security was said to include reports from Turkey on its efforts to rescue and protect refugees from Syria arriving via the Aegean Sea, and from the United States on responses to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in contravention of international resource management frameworks in the North Pacific Ocean. According to a participant, a representative of the China Coast Guard also commented that China would continue to cooperate in IUU countermeasures.
Path set for closer cooperation going forward
The Chairman’s Summary covered 12 items and called on countries to share their successful results and experiences in areas including emergency responses to natural disasters and maritime accidents, countermeasures for criminal activities, and education and training at security agencies. This was initially planned to be issued as a “Joint Statement,” but given the differences in countries’ organizational and legal structures and the authority and position of their respective coast guards, rather than having each representative sign onto a joint statement, the conclusions were delivered as a summary by the summit chairman, Admiral Satoshi Nakajima, commandant of the Japan Coast Guard.
In their general comments, participants spoke favorably of the summit, and expressed thanks to the Japan Coast Guard and The Nippon Foundation for organizing the event. They noted that this first global summit of coast guard leaders was a major step in the history of maritime safety, and that it would facilitate swift exchanges of information among the respective agencies. Another commented that going forward, coast guards will play an increasingly important role relative to navies.
Post-summit press conference
After the summit, Adm. Nakajima and Mitsuyuki Unno, Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation, held a press conference. Adm. Nakajima commented that the summit confirmed that the countries would work together as they sought to address these global issues, through their coast guards that are connected by the ocean, which transcends national boundaries. Mr. Unno noted that The Nippon Foundation’s efforts with the Asian coast guard summits and in capacity building have proven successful, and that the Foundation hopes to continue to support these summits and that they will produce concrete results.
When asked about whether the territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea, and North Korea’s nuclear warhead-equipped missile development, had been discussed, Adm. Nakajima explained, “This summit dealt with themes at the global level, and specific regions or countries were not discussed.” With regard to China, however, he reiterated Japan’s stance, commenting “We call for self-restraint so that the situation does not escalate, and in Japan’s case, the agencies involved will work together toward a firm, measured response.”
The Nippon Foundation