The Japan-Federation of Coastal Shipping Associations
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Adherence to the cabotage system

For coastal shipping, in accordance with regulations in Article 3 of the Ships Act, foreign vessels cannot conduct coastal shipping of cargo or passengers between ports in Japan unless to avoid capture or marine accident, or there is a provision in law or otherwise provided by treaty, or they have obtained a permit from the Ministry of Land, Instructure, Transport and Tourism.

From viewpoints such as national security, the reliable transport of everyday goods for local residents, securing the employment of domestic crew members, and limiting the transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country have been a matter of international practice; the necessity to basically maintain this system is recognized in our country as well.


         [Cabotage system of each country in the world]

As a common rule throughout the world, it is enacted in most countries having a coastline, such as the United States, Asian nations including South Korea, China, and India, European nations including Germany, France, and Italy, and Latin American nations including Brazil and Argentina.  

◆Problems when the cabotage system is eased and abolished

@ Japanese-flag vessels in coastal shipping will decline just as oceangoing vessels have, and Japanese ship crews will evaporate; the reliable transport of industrial and daily goods, which makes up 1/3 of the entire domestic distribution, will then become dependent upon foreign-flag vessels and foreign crews. Many shipowners and transport operators will be forced to withdraw from the profession, making it more difficult to pass on the marine technical tradition, whilst raising concerns that what is at stake is the very existence of a maritime nation.

A Operations in Japanese waters are quite rigorous, not only because of intense weather changes, but also because the majority of a ship's navigation must be conducted within complex, congested, and heavily trafficked sea lanes; of note also is the fact that coastal ships have a relatively brief navigation period and are required to enter and leave a port in the shortest possible time. If we were to make foreign crews do this, sea traffic in Japanese coastal areas may potentially become inordinately dangerous.

B Because Japan is a maritime country, its national security depends most heavily upon its coastal shipping; were its shipping capacities to decline or become limited, it would be impossible for it to play the following roles in providing strength and security for the nation:


Civil Protection Act

Based on the Civil Protection Act and Military Attack Contingency legislation, measures, such as resident evacuation, the rescue of the evacuated residents, and actions in response to attack will be executed under the government's initiative. The five operating coastal shipping companies have been designated as public agencies. In the case of emergency, the coastal shipping industry will take a lead in and cooperate in the security of the people and the nation.


Marine Transportation Act (Article 26):

Navigation order: The Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport can order the navigation between our nation's ports when such navigation concerns rescue from disaster or other circumstances that require action for the maintenance of public safety. The coastal shipping industry will act according to government order for the safety of the country.


Monitoring cooperation for maritime security

All 5,800 domestic coastal ships and their 30,000 crew members cooperate with the J. C. G. to ensure public safety and security in the areas of terrorist activity, intrusion into territorial waters, and the smuggling of drugs or arms.


Transportation partnership agreements with local governments during disasters

The Japan Federation of Coastal Shipping Associations and marine transportation unions cooperate with local governments such as the city of Tokyo in making agreements about coastal ship transportation partnerships during times of a large-scale disaster.

Recently, a discussion for relaxing the cabotage system has surfaced, but this problem relates to the very existence of coastal shipping, and we firmly oppose such discussion as it conflicts with our national interests from the viewpoint of national defense, public safety measures, and industry policies, including shipbuilding and marine equipment. We will conduct much further public relations activity aimed at achieving an understanding of these crucial matters by citizen groups and many related parties of the necessity and importance of the cabotage system, a system that is the international standard.


Copyright © 2008 Japan Federation of Coastal Shipping Associations