Supporting establishment of a combined coast guard for the three nations of Micronesia [Part 1]
Unified coast guard proposal now under consideration The seas of Micronesia
It looks certain that two nongovernmental bodies, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and The Nippon Foundation, will provide comprehensive support for construction of a trinational unified coast guard, formed between the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia, nations that possess a vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Plans are underway to establish a committee - including American and Australian members and tentatively entitled “Committee for establishment of a combined coast guard for the three nations of Micronesia” - including all three nations, and to draw up concrete strategies, within the year. The area of sea between the three nations represents the only East-West trading route that can serve as an alternative to that stretching between the Taiwan Strait and the Strait of Malacca, thus the project is highly significant in terms of securing the safety of Japan.
Discussions with Micronesian government officials Mr. Hanyu, Chairman of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation
In reference to the trinational coastguard proposal, Mr. Jiro Hanyu, Chairman of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, held discussions with representatives of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in May, and, separately, with representatives from the U.S., the country responsible for national defence and security in the Micronesian region. Furthermore, during discussions held between Chairman Hanyu and the presidents of Micronesia and Palau in mid-September, the two countries stated they would welcome support from Japan. Coincidentally, on the 15th and 16th of the same month, Mr. Yoshiro Mori, Former Prime Minister, and Mr. Emanuel Mori, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, were attending a ceremony to commemorate twenty years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Micronesia; the topic of constructing a coast guard featured in discussions between the two.
Former Prime Minister Mr. Mori addressing the Micronesian parliament
In the near future, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and representatives from the three Micronesian countries will meet and discuss particulars regarding maritime safety-related business and support from Japan. Consequently, plans regarding establishment of a coast guard will be announced formally at the Micronesian trinational summit, scheduled for this year. Following the announcement, a coast guard establishment preparatory committee will be assembled. In addition to the three Micronesian nations, it is expected that the U.S. Coast Guard, who are currently supporting the clamp down on illegal operations in the region, and the Australian Navy, will becomes coast guard members. At the present time, marine safety matters considered relevant to the three countries include: conservation of marine resources/clampdown on illegal activities, prevention of marine pollution, environmental protection measures centering on measures for dealing with industrial waste, and sea rescue.
The New Capitol building in Palau (the national parliament building)
At the discussions, the Republic of Palau, having borders with the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Indonesia, showed great interest in border security and law and order. In contrast, the other two Micronesian nations were more inclined to emphasize aspects including conservation of fishing resources. Furthermore, coordination will be necessary with the U.S. and Australia, two countries that have supported the three Micronesian nations to date. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and The Nippon Foundation are nongovernmental organizations, thus their direct and involvement with marine safety on a practical level is somewhat difficult.
Given these circumstances, it is likely that support from Japan will be centered on maintenance of communication facilities and capacity building and similar indirect forms of support. With the aim of adding to the officer candidates educated at the Japan Coast Guard Academy (Kure City, Hiroshima), investigation is underway into establishment of training facilities in the three island nations. Among the proposals being investigated at present is dispatch of instructors from Japan to train coast guard staff. Viable sites for the proposed training facilities are now being sought.
The combined geographical area of the many islands that compose the three Micronesian nations is 1400Km2; the combined population is approximately 180,000.Yet, the total EEZ is the third largest in the world, at 6,000,000Km2. Recent years have seen increases in illegal operations seeking to tap the rich marine resources in the region, in addition to increased Chinese penetration into the area. America and Australia are supporting surveillance and clampdown activities in the region on the basis of the trinational agreement, however the sheer size of the target area imposes limitations; a unified coast guard was thus proposed as a possible solution. The Micronesian region, including the Republic of Kiribati and the Republic of Nauru, came under the administration of Japan following WW1 with the execution of the The South Seas Mandate, and became the site of furious fighting once again during WW2. The region is home to many individuals of Japanese descent (Nikkei-jin); the Micronesian President, Mr. Mori, is in fact a fourth generation Nikkei-jin.
(Miyazaki Tadashi, the Nippon Foundation)
*This article was reproduced from The Nippon Foundation Blog Magazine with the permission of the Nippon Foundation.