Singapore Meeting on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore: “Enhancing, Safety, Security and Environmental Protection”


Ladies and gentlemen, I am truly honored for this opportunity to speak here today. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the IMO and the littoral States for organizing this meeting with considerable diligence and hospitality. In addition, I would like to thank all the other representatives coming here today to enhance safety, security and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.

As you are fully aware, most countries in the world benefit from maritime transportation through the long and narrow Straits of Malacca and Singapore, where many dangerous points exist. It is also understood that huge efforts are required to sustain the safety of navigation. Should there be an accident in the Straits, it could cause a great loss of life, and damage to ships and cargo. A large-scale oil spill could also occur, easily damaging the environment and local economies, rapidly and widely, through destroying fishery and tourism industries. A catastrophic collision and oil spill might completely stop ship traffic in the Straits.

The volume of traffic in the Straits in terms of deadweight tons is four times compared to that of the Suez Canal, and also more than ten times to that of the Panama Canal. Further, according to research carried out by Japan, a 60% increase from the current 4 billion to 6.4 billion is expected by the year 2020. At the same time, the annual number of passing vessels is estimated to rise by 50%, from the current 94,000, to 141,000. Accordingly, various safety measures should be implemented immediately to cope with growing safety risks by this traffic growth projection. Furthermore, we have to tackle with other unprecedented risks such as an increase in the number of large size of vessels and a diversification of goods transported.

In view of these facts, it is extremely significant that the littoral States and the IMO have organized this series of meeting with user states which was held three times so far to discuss issues of enhancement of safety, security and environmental protection in the Straits. These efforts of the littoral States and the IMO over long years are truly becoming successful for the global maritime industry. We are confident of a great progress towards establishment of an international cooperation in safety of navigation.

At this moment, I would like to propose the following questions, in view of the fact that the direct beneficiaries of using the Straits are commercial industries in the world, so too, that potential polluters of the Straits are most likely themselves. Do the littoral States and user states have to deal with the problems without any help from the industry?

Moreover, can the international maritime industry declare to have fully discharged its responsibility, if its operations merely complied with international treaties and practices in the field of navigational safety and marine environmental protection?

The Nippon Foundation has been cooperating with the littoral States for many years, realizing the navigational safety and protecting the environment in the Straits. It would be a great pleasure if this has led to improved navigational safety in the Straits. On the other hand, it would be nothing but disappointment, if our efforts so far have let users to be convinced that they do not need to cooperate for realizing navigational safety in the Straits, and just enjoy the rights of a free-rider.

I have been stating that maritime industries are not only responsible for complying with existing international treaties and domestic laws, but also for dealing with effects of their activities on safety and marine environmental protection, as well as on regional countries and local communities. This is a concept of Corporate Social Responsibility.

When we take issues of navigational safety and environmental protection with the concept of the Corporate Social Responsibility in the Straits, where cost for sustaining navigational safety is considerable amount, shipping companies using the Straits should have a responsibility to bear some cost for safety navigation, rather than leaving the entire burden to the littoral States. In case of the Straits, such beneficiaries like shipping companies should conduct their own Corporate Social Responsibility by voluntarily participating in enhancement of safety and environment protection in the Straits.

You may already know that The Nippon Foundation, for a number of years, has been contributing towards the enhancement of safety of navigation and the protection of the marine environment in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Following the Kuala Lumpur Meeting, during which it was agreed to support the efforts of the littoral States to establish the Co-operative Mechanism they had outlined at the time, The Nippon Foundation, in collaboration with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Singapore, the Maritime Institute of Malaysia, and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Indonesia, held a symposium in March and a follow-up workshop in June the aim of which was to discuss issues relating to the co-operative mechanism and in particular the aids to navigation fund primarily within the industry, in an effort to contribute, from the angle of the private sector, towards the work being done by the littoral States in relation to the establishment of a mechanism of co-operation.

The work done has shown that the way forward is by supporting the Co-operative Mechanism and, in particular the Aids to Navigation Fund established by the littoral States. In addition, The Nippon Foundation has supported research in a number of issues that falls within the scope of Project 5 on replacement and maintenance of aids to navigation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which have shown that this project should be supported by voluntary contribution from the private sector.

The Nippon Foundation wishes to continue to play a positive role in furthering issues relating to the safety of navigation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and thus it wishes to create an atmosphere which will foster the realization of the Co-operative Mechanism. I have no doubt that you will agree with me that considering the expenditure which Project 5 requires and its duration it will be quite some time before voluntary contributions from users States, users of the Straits and other stakeholders will reach a sufficient level to meet the required expenditures.

The Nippon Foundation has considered the question and the difficulties associated with the financing of the Aids to Navigation Fund at the initial stages and I have the great pleasure to declare before you today that The Nippon Foundation is prepared to contribute to the Aids to Navigation Fund up to a third of the costs associated with the funding of the maintenance and repair of the aids to navigation during the initial five-year period, until the necessary funds have been collected from voluntary contributions from around the world.

If the offer that I have just made finds international support, then we will see the Aids to Navigation Fund, under the Co-operative Mechanism, materializing in a short period. The Nippon Foundation sincerely hopes that its offer would trigger a worldwide response and would be matched by an equally and similar voluntary response from user States, users of the Straits, private-sector groups like us and even the public at large as it is the one which ultimately benefits from the use of the Straits by ships engaged in international trade. This will be a historical achievement. The Nippon Foundation is willing to help set up the Aids to Navigation Fund and it hopes that its offer would the first step toward creating a new future.

I firmly believe that cooperation among all organizations concerned is important towards the establishment of the Aids to Navigation Fund. In this respect, The Nippon Foundation’s work in the elimination of leprosy might serve as a useful example, when setting up the Fund with cooperation among all related people, I would like to introduce this work briefly.

I have fought for a long time to eliminate leprosy, and it is certain that within the next two years, we will achieve our goal. The success of this project mostly came from formation of an alliance among related groups. Before I became involved in the elimination of leprosy, the work was carried out only by leprosy specialists who unfortunately failed to produce significant results. This situation led me to propose formation of an alliance between the WHO, international organizations, relevant governments, NGOs, and pharmaceutical companies, all of which focused on achieving the same goal – the elimination of leprosy. This combined effort has led to our final success.

In the same way, I would like to convince everyone here that a formation of an alliance, where such all related sectors like the littoral States, user states and the other stake-holders are pursuing to the same goal, is important to the success of the Aids to Navigation Fund. The Nippon Foundation would like to seek a possibility involving a number of stake-holders as far as possible, encouraging them to contribute to the Fund.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.