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Japan Coast Guard

The end of World War II saw an end to territorial disputes In Europe, Russia excepted. The end of World War II gave rise to a host of territorial disputes in Asia, many of which have become increasingly acute in the new century. Most of these disputes center on small islands. Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan have postured the Coast Guards to contest these disputes. They have deployed cutters that are either armed only with water cannon, or with only medium caliber guns that might damage but not sink their counterparts. The intent is to limit the potential for escalation inherent in a full scale naval engagement.

Despite ranking only 61st in the world in terms of land area (380,000 km2), Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone combined are 12 times larger (4,470,000 kmZ) than its land area. In December 1986, the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan on Maritime Search and Rescue (US-Japan SAR Agreement) was concluded, under which Japan is responsible for coordinating search and rescue activit ies in the vast expanse of ocean that extends northward from 17° North and westward from 165° East.

Surrounded on all sides by wide expanses of ocean, Japan is a maritime nation that enjoys the benef its of the sea in the forms of maritime trade and fishing. However, these waters are also plagued by various problems, including maritime accidents, marine crime such as smuggling and illegal migration, and international disputes over the sovereignty of territorial possessions and maritime resources.

Since its establishment in May 1948, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) has been engaged night and day in a variety of activities, including criminal invest igations, maritime security operations, search and rescue work, marine environment preservat ion, disaster mitigat ion, oceanographic research, and maritime safety operations, and also working to strengt hen collaboration and cooperation with other countries, all so that the people of Japan can use and enjoy the various blessings of the ocean environment.

With its headquarters in Tokyo, the JCG has divided the nation into 11 regions to facilitate its coast guard operations. Each region has a Regional Coast Guard Headquarters under which there are various Coast Guard Offices, Coast Guard Air Stations, Coast Guard Stations, Traffic Advisory Service Centers, Air Stations, and Hydrographic Observatories.

Painted in blue on JCG patrol vessels, aircraft, and the like, this stylized letter "S" is the symbol of the JCG. The S-mark embodies the JCG's missions of security, search and rescue, safety, and surveying, as well as its key ideals of speed, smartness, smiles, and service.

Japan’s economy heavily depends on safe passage of ships through the Malacca Strait, and therefore Japan has long cooperated with Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia in the area of navigation safety and seabed mapping through joint research, sharing of equipment, and training. The increase in piracy incidents in the Strait since the 1997- 1998 Asian economic crisis resulted in increased Japanese assistance in anti-piracy efforts. Japan has also aided civilian law enforcement capabilities of the littoral states through its Coast Guard. Japanese Coast Guard vessels have patrolled Southeast Asian seas and carried out joint exercises with civilian maritime counterparts in Southeast Asia.

Japan proposed the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), which emphasized sharing information about ships victimized by and suspected of committing piracy and armed robbery. Japan’s civilian focus in assistance to the region has been well received. The Japanese Coast Guard is capable of providing all the assistance the region needs, and the Coast Guard’s “civilian” status makes Japan’s diplomacy much easier.

The JCG has exercised its vigilance and watchfulness to be prepared for any activities by suspicious vessels and spy ships. The service conducts a variety of training exercises for dealing with such vessels involving mainly its 2,OOO-ton, high-performance, high-speed helipad-equipped patrol vessels and its l,OOO-ton special high-performance, high-speed patrol vessels.

Located in the southwestern area of the East China Sea, the Senkaku Islands are a part of Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture and consist of the five islets of Uot- 5urishima, Minami-Ko-jima, Kita-Ko-jima, Kubashima, and Taishoto, and the t hree rocks of Oki-no-Kita-iwa, Oki-no-Minami-iwa, and Tobise. Recently, there have been cases where official boats from China and Taiwan have encroached upon Japanese territorial waters and through their adivities have sought to stake ter ritorial claims in t he seas around the Senkaku Islands. Particularty since the nationalization of three of the islands (Uotsurishima, Minami- Ko-jima, and Kita-Ko-jima) in September 2012, there have been a growing number of cases where official boats from China loiter around and intrude upon t he seas surrounding the Senkaku Islands, and activists have become increasingly active in claiming their right of possession of the islands.

The JCG dispatches patrol vessels and craft and aircraft to those waters to take any necessary measures, such as giving warnings and requests for departure and exercising other forms of control, thereby securing Japan's sovereignty in the area. In September 2012, the JCG came to possess three of the Senkaku Islands (Uotsuri-jima, Kita-Ko-jima, and Minami-Ko-j ima), with a view toward maintaining and controlling the islands peacefully.

Located in the Japan Sea to the northwest of the Ok; Islands. Takeshima consists of a western islet, an eastern islet, and several dozen reefs in the surrounding area. This group of islands is classified as a part of Okinoshima, Shimane. Since 1954, South Korea has occupied Takeshima by permanently stationing its coast guard there. The JCG deploys its patrol vessels in the waters near Takeshima to ensure the safety of Japanese individuals involved in fisheries by providing them with information and guidance on how to avoid being apprehended.

The Northern Territories are a group of islands toward the northwest of Hokkaido. They consist of the Habomai Islands, Shikotan, Kunashiri-to, and Etorofu-to, and are claimed by Hokkaido. Russia continues to occupy the Northern Territories, and there have been a series of cases in nearby waters where Japanese fishing boats were captured and Japanese f ishermen were injured by Russian gunfire. There have even been incidents in which Japanese fishing boats were sunk. The JCG deploys patrol vessels and craft in those sea areas, while at the same time providing information directly or through f isherman's cooperatives, etc. to fishing boats with information on how to avoid apprehension and ensuring that they comply with relevant laws.

Approximately half of the crimes referred to competent authorities by the JCG are such maritime law violations as navigation by non-inspected vessels and carrying passengers in excess of capacity. Of these crimes, roughly 30% are fisheries law violations, such as poaching. Domestic poaching crimes have become increasingly diverse in nature. They range from organized crimes such as fish and shellfish harvesting by individuals uninvolved in fisheries and by those associated with fishery product companies, to poaching by individuals working to fund crime syndicates. In order to eradicate such crimes, the JCG works closely with the individuals involved in fisheries and relevant organizations in each region to conduct thorough monitoring and surveillance.

Illegal operations by foreign fishing vessels are being carried out in increasingly malicious and ingenious ways. To combat this t rend. the JCG works to coordinate and cooperate with the relevant organizations and regions in Japan and abroad, collects and analyzes information, and conducts rigorous monitoring and surveillance activities in its efforts to assess fishery operations by foreign vessels.

Smuggling and illegal immigration have a serious impact on public order in Japan, and Japanese organized crime groups and international crime syndicates are often involved in such activities. To halt such crimes at the water's edge. the KG is working together with the relevant organizations both in Japan and overseas and carries out enforcement operations.

The JCG has formed a special security force comprised mainly of patrol vessels to enhance the level of security provided when foreign warships and vessels call at Japanese ports or when nuclear materials are transported by sea.

As countermeasures against terrorism, the JCG conducts patrols around facilities that are at risk, such as coastal nuclear power plants and international harbors, where coastal operations are conduded, and also stands guard at passenger terminals during peak travel periods. Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that broke out on March 11, 2011, the Japanese government decided on the ·reinforcement of measures to prevent terrorism at nuclear power plants and other facilities· at its Headquarters for the Promotion of Measures Against Transnational Organized Crime and Other Relative Issues and International Terrorism on November 14 of that same year. Accordingly, relevant ministries and agencies have taken a series of measures through dose cooperation.

To search for and arrest pirates in the seas off the coast of Somalia, the KG posts officers on vessels engaged in escort activities. It also dispatches patrol vessels to Southeast Asian waters and conducts joint exercises with the coast guards of nations in the region. Additionally, the KG is also directing its energies toward improving the capabilities of the region's coast guards by way of training and other activities.

All foreign vessels wishing to conduct scientific ocean surveys in Japan's EEZ, etc. are required to undergo the prescribed procedures, which include obtaining prior consent from Japan, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In recent years, however, there have been cases where foreign vessels have conducted surveys without Japan's consent. Upon detection of such activities, the JCG shares information with relevant ministries and agencies and sends cease and desist warnings and other messages from patrol vessels and craft and aircraft.

To respond to such maritime disasters as large-scale oil spills, discharge of hazardous and noxious substances, and shipboard fires, the JCG has stationed firefighting ships and disaster mitigation equipment around the country. This provides the JCG with a system that is always ready to be mobilized and is also useful for such tasks as predicting how an oil spill will spread and drift in order to allow for its effective removal. The JCG also works for maritime disaster prevention by conducting exercises with private sector disaster prevention organizations in Japan and overseas.

To ensure safe navigation of vessels with varying sizes, the KG measures the precise depth of seafloor and utilizes the data to update nautical charts. This topographic data is also used as the basic information to extend the continental shelf, to make investigations concerning earthquakes, to conduct simulations of tsunami propagation, and to develop marine resources. Precise investigations of shoreline are made to determine and record the locations of low tide lines (the borders between land and sea at low tide) on nautical charts, which are used as baselines to decide territorial waters.

Special traffic rules apply in areas that are heavily congested with vessel traffic. such as Tokyo Bay, lse Bay, the Seto Inland Sea, and key ports. In such areas, Vessel Traffic Service Centers monitor the movement of vessels, in order to provide necessary sea traffic information and control the maneuvering of large vessels for the safety of Navigation. In conjunction with patrol vessels and craft. they provide guidance to vessels that are navigating inappropriately. Under the Act on Port Regulations, the JCG has selected 85 ports throughout the country, where it monitors vessels' status of departure and entry, grants permission for the handling of dangerous cargoes, and designates anchorages, thereby ensuring maritime traffic safety.

Japan’s Defense Ministry budget request for FY2022 asked for $99 million to set up a garrison at Ishigaki Island. Ishigaki Island also known as Ishigakijima, is a Japanese island south-west of Okinawa Honto and the second-largest island of the Yaeyama Island group. Ishigaki Island, like the rest of Okinawa, is culturally influenced by both Japan and Taiwan. Due to its location, about 300 km (186 mi) off the north eastern coast of Taiwan, and Japan’s increased focus on grey-zone challenges, Ishigaki Port has been expanded so more than a dozen large (over 1,000 tons) Japan Coast Guard ships can be stationed there.

Located 400 km (249 mi) southwest of Okinawa Island and 259 km (161 mi) east of Keelung, Ishigaki serves as a gateway to the Yaeyama Islands. These reinforcements are mostly in relation to the Japanese uninhabited Senkaku Islands. Tokyo earmarked ¥21.2 billion yen (US$205 million) in FY2021 to build new patrol boats and buy helicopters for the region, with plans to assign 22 ships of over 1,000 tons (including the 3 Tsugarus, a Kunigami, and a Hateruma class patrol vessel based in Naha) in the region by 2024. Tokyo has also bulked up the JCG presence on Miyako-jima between Ishigaki and Naha with nine Shimoji-class small patrol vessels and a Tokara-class medium patrol vessel.

KOJIMA is a training ship of Japan Coast Guard Academy, whose length is 115 meter and displacement tonnage is 3136 ton, and it is one of the biggest class training ships in the world. It is used for training of the Academy cadets such as a round-the-world trip and the training for domestic navigation etc. About 40 cadets have been trained on this ship.

The cadets have to clean up the ship very well and keep the rooms neat and tidy. Keeping ships always clean was a fundamental skill for cadets in order to be always ready as a coast guard officer and also cleaned up KOJIMA with them. On the other hand, speaking of pleasure in ship was meals. Meals of KOJIMA were very delicious and it seemed that meals were one of factors to maintain cadets’ motivation.

The cadets were separated to three different courses: Navigation, Engineering and Communication. We observed each course during the voyage and learned what trainings have been conducted. The cadets have been disciplined very well by instructors (officers) of KOJIMA. In each course it is required to communicate well with all members on duty, otherwise it leads to misunderstandings among the members and it may cause any dangerous situations to the ship. In the engineering course, when the cadets checked engines and other machines, they used all five senses and pointed to the parts to be checked by using finger. Moreover, the training of KOJIMA seemed that it was a good opportunity for the cadets to put their knowledge got from lectures in Academy into practice.

In a move that is likely to be depicted as a further militarization of the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG), the government is considering transferring decommissioned MSDF destroyers to the JCG to “improve patrols around some disputed islands in the East China Sea,” Kyodo News reported in March 2013. The discussion has been in the works since November 2012. A key concern is how to modify the vessels for civilian use. There is a need to remove the vessels’ torpedo and missile launchers, but in addition to the weaponry, there is the issue of the engines: the Hatsuyuki-class uses gas turbines whereas the JCG uses diesel engines. there are more than 150 crews between Hatsuyuki class and Mizuho class(one of the biggest patrol vessel with two Bell 212s). Hatsuyuki class will be necessary to be modified for JCG to operate with less crews. It should be noted that they are no younger than the PLHs , ie. Tsugaru, Mizuho or Shikishima.

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Page last modified: 06-09-2021 15:33:44 ZULU