Foreign Policy Blogs

Somali pirates brought to Japan

Today I will look at another story that fell through the cracks this past week during the earthquake/nuclear crisis coverage–that of four Somali pirates brought to Japan to face trial. This is the first transfer of pirates to Japan since the passing of Japan’s antipiracy laws in July 2009.

The four pirates were captured after attacking a tanker operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. off the coast of Oman in the the Indian Ocean on the night of March 5. None of the 24 crew members, all non-Japanese, were hurt. The U.S. military took the four into custody and handed them over to Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office dispatched prosecutors to Oman last Tuesday to question crew members of the tanker and make arrangements for the pirates’ transportation. A Japanese destroyer in Oman took the pirates to Djibouti, where they boarded a Japan Coast Guard aircraft to be transported to Japan.

Once in Japan, the Japan Coast Guard arrested them on suspicion of violating the antipiracy law.

Under the antipiracy law, acts of piracy that involve the commandeering of a vessel are punishable by five years to life in prison.

This story has important policy implications as there are currently no clear-cut international rules on how to handle captured pirates. The treatment of the pirates at the hands of Japanese courts could set an international precedent on the treatment of pirates.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]