Japan needs to join hands with other countries to fight increasing maritime-related crime worldwide, particularly pirate attacks in Southeast Asian waters, according to an annual report the Japan Coast Guard released earlier this week.

Japan could improve its effectiveness in dealing with pirate attacks, human smuggling and the trafficking of drugs and weapons if it were to expand its cooperation with other countries, the report says.

Pirates have become more violent in recent years and international crime organizations are in the business of selling stolen ships and their cargoes, it adds.

The report cites the hijacking of the Alondra Rainbow, a Japanese-owned merchant ship attacked and commandeered by pirates last October.

The 7,762-ton freighter was attacked hours after leaving the Indonesian port of Kuala Tanjung on Oct. 22 for the port of Miike, Fukuoka Prefecture. The crew, comprising two Japanese and 15 Filipinos, were rescued by Thai authorities Nov. 9, 11 days after being sent adrift in a life raft.

On another topic, the report mentions the presence of Chinese research ships in waters that Japan claims as part of its exclusive economic zone.

The coast guard has been closely monitoring the ships' movements and has asked China to stop the ships from entering the zone, the report says.

Last year, a record 30 Chinese research ships were found operating in the zone in the East China Sea, said the coast guard, formerly called the Maritime Safety Agency.

The report also says the coast guard mobilized 759 ships last year to rescue people in accidents.

An English-language version of the report will be published around next March, a coast guard spokesman said.