Toward an “Aids to Navigation Fund” in the Malacca and Singapore Straits [2008/02/25]
(Photo:Representatives of three nations on the coast of the Malacca Strait)
On the 15th of January, a conference was held in Tokyo between The Nippon Foundation and representatives of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia—the countries bordering the Malacca and Singapore straits—to address the establishment of a fund aimed at ensuring safe navigation through the straits. This conference resulted in the initiation of concrete steps toward the establishment of such a fund. The fund is the first of its kind and will seek voluntary contributions from the countries and companies that themselves use the straits. At the conference, The Nippon Foundation announced it would contribute one-third of the fund’s total for the first five years and would provide 150 million yen to cover research costs to determine the amount needed by the fund.
The Malacca and Singapore straits carry the world’s largest volume of sea traffic, with 94,000 vessels passing through their waters each year. In recent years, the growth of the Chinese economy has driven the volume of maritime traffic passing through the straits to record highs, with a corresponding increase in the risk of maritime accidents. In light of these circumstances, in March 2007 a symposium was held in Kuala Lumpur on improving navigational safety and protecting the environment of the straits. It was at this symposium that Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation, proposed the establishment of the fund.
In December of last year, Mr. Sasakawa visited London to meet with representatives of four major maritime transportation organizations: the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Shipping Federation (ICS/ISF), the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), and the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO). Through these meetings, Mr. Sasakawa obtained the cooperation of these organizations in the establishment of this fund.
The January 15th conference in Tokyo built on these agreements, addressing more concrete topics, such as the framework for the fund and future schedules. At a press briefing held after the conference, chairman Sasakawa emphasized the need for new efforts in maritime safety, efforts that break free from the traditional concept that the seas may be used free of charge. He said, “We will seek contributions to this fund as part of the corporate social responsibility of companies, such as shipping firms, that use the Malacca and Singapore Straits.”
(Photo: Scene from the press conference)