16 INTERNATIONAL ISSUES
Navigation safety in the Strait of Malacca and Singapore
The Strait of Malacca and Singapore form an important oil transportation route for Japan. As one of the most important international channels, it is always crowded with ships, and the international community has long been aware of the need for special safety and anti-pirating measures there. Following the conclusion of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (rules for international cooperation among users of marine routes), the Malaysian Prime Minister requested Japans active involvement in a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister in August 1994. Japan has since been involved through the development, maintenance, and management of navigational aid facilities through the Malacca Straits Council, and participated in a study by the IMO. In May 1998, the government decided to offer assistance to the three countries along the channel to do a full review of navigation routes to ensure safe marine navigation. The full-fledged survey began in October 1998. In July 1998, the Japan Association for Preventing Marine Accidents opened an office in Singapore to conduct maritime safety research. In March 1993, the Ministry of Transport set up an internal committee and working groups to examine Malacca Strait issues and make comprehensive recommendations to improve marine transportation through the channel.
Promoting the safety of bulk carriers
A series of accidents involving bulk carriers has prompted the IMO to study measures to strengthen inspection systems and improve safety in the event of vessel damage. Japan actively participates in this discussion, proposing a list of appropriate safety requirements. Maritime safety measures have also been examined by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). At the 20th MSC general assembly in November 1997, the signatories of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention) agreed to revise the accord (a new Chapter XII) on the safety of bulk carriers.