貨物検査法成立 海保と海自の連携を密にせよ


The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 31, 2010)
MSDF should join cargo inspections
貨物検査法成立 海保と海自の連携を密にせよ(5月30日付・読売社説)

The Diet on Friday finally enacted into law a special measures bill to enable inspections of cargo transported on ships to and from North Korea.

Cargo inspection was part of a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in June last year imposing sanctions on North Korea after Pyongyang carried out a nuclear test despite international disapproval. However, Japan previously did not have a law under which it could conduct cargo inspections, preventing the nation from joining concerted international actions until now.

The establishment of the special measures law solved this legal shortcoming. However, the government should not leave cargo inspection only to the Japan Coast Guard, but should also actively utilize the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The special measures law authorizes the JCG and customs officials to inspect ships to check whether they are carrying weapons and other banned items. If captains of those ships refuse the inspections, the JCG and customs can order the ships to head for a nearby port.


New law's tortuous path

The special measures bill was initially submitted to the Diet by the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Taro Aso, but was scrapped because the House of Representatives was dissolved for a general election.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama partially revised the bill and resubmitted it to the Diet during its extraordinary session in autumn, but the law's enactment was delayed as the Cabinet placed priority on dealing with other bills.

The legislation governing cargo inspections should have been enacted much earlier.

In addition, the revised bill's contents contained a problem. The bill submitted by the Aso Cabinet stipulated the MSDF would be sent out when it became difficult for the JCG to deal with a case alone. The bill promulgated by the Hatoyama Cabinet deleted this provision in consideration of junior coalition partner the Social Democratic Party, which opposes utilizing the MSDF for cargo inspections.

The government said no obstacles exist for the law's smooth implemention even without the provision, noting the government would be able to dispatch the MSDF when ordering a maritime police action based on the Self-Defense Forces Law.

However, the law's lack of clarity over the MSDF's involvement in the cargo inspection mission could make the government hesitant about sending out the MSDF in times of emergency.

We hope the government will exercise ingenuity in the law's operation by ensuring close coordination between the JCG and the MSDF to enable concerted action.


MSDF strengths needed

Even after making use of the MSDF, there are still many problems that need to be solved to improve the effectiveness of cargo inspections.

In the case of North Korean ships and captains, it appears unlikely they would readily accept cargo inspections and orders to head for a nearby port. There might be a case in which ships masquerading as merchant ships are actually heavily armed. In such a scenario, even if the government dispatches the MSDF by ordering a maritime police action, the MSDF vessels are not allowed to fire even warning shots.

Tension rose on the Korean Peninsula after the March sinking of a South Korean waship that was attributed to North Korea.

During summit talks with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak on Jeju Island in South Korea on Saturday, Hatoyama expressed his intention to actively conduct cargo inspections as the special measures bill was enacted into law the previous day.

From now on, information- and role-sharing with the U.S. and South Korean navies will be extremely important. The MSDF is the organization better equipped to undertake smooth coordination.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 30, 2010)
(2010年5月30日01時34分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-05-31 21:58 | 英字新聞

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