The transport ministry plans to make it mandatory for foreign ships entering Japanese ports to have indemnity insurance, ministry officials said Friday.

The move follows a string of incidents in which vessels have been abandoned along Japanese coasts, the officials said.

“It is an issue that is also troubling local governments,” Chikage Ogi, minister of land, infrastructure and transport, told a news conference. “There are 11 such ships left unattended. I would like to consider (submitting a bill) to the Diet next year.”

The ministry is also considering alternative measures, including charging a one-time insurance fee per port call, because barring all ships without insurance would have a significant negative impact on the economy.

Vessels of several hundred tons or more are expected to fall under the insurance requirement proposal.

To prepare for stranded ships, the ministry envisions a fund that would be set up by the central and local governments to help local authorities pay for removal operations.

Local governments have pressed for such legislation, as they are paying huge sums to remove stranded and abandoned foreign ships.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Government and the city of Hitachi, for example, will probably be forced to pay 300 million yen to remove a North Korean freighter that was abandoned along the coast in December after it ran aground and broke up.

According to ministry data as of February, 11 foreign vessels stranded and abandoned along Japanese coasts include two Russian freighters off Nemuro, Hokkaido, and a Panamanian freighter off Urasoe, Okinawa.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.