Events have conspired to disrupt the fragile flow of raw materials, parts and consumer goods, according to companies, economists and shipping specialists.
For Jonathan Saul's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
The United Nations describes the situation as a humanitarian crisis at sea and says governments should class seafarers as essential workers.
Companies including Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries are beginning to develop a new generation of vessels that can deliver hydrogen to heavy industry.
A probe reveals an intricate tale of missing documentation, secrecy and a web of small, obscure companies that span the globe.
Some of the world's largest oil traders have hired supertankers to store crude at sea, marking a milestone in the build-up of the global glut. Trading firms including Vitol, Trafigura and energy major Shell have all booked crude tankers for up to 12 months, freight ...