Bill aims to keep foreign ships moving

Kyodo News

Japan plans to establish a new law that would ban foreign ships from staying in its territorial waters without a legitimate reason, government officials said Tuesday.

The planned legislation would also authorize the Japan Coast Guard to tighten restrictions on such vessels, they said.

The Cabinet endorsed the bill to be submitted this Diet session that would ban foreign vessels from anchoring within Japan’s 12-nautical mile (22-km) territorial waters, except in emergencies, including sheltering from storms, sea disasters or for rescue operations involving human life.

It would allow the coast guard to search foreign ships deemed suspicious and to order them to leave. Penalties would be imposed on ships refusing to be inspected or ignoring orders from the coast guard.

The legislation would be a followup to the basic law on ocean policy enacted last year that calls for Japan to realize an oceanic state in harmonization of the peaceful and positive development and use of the oceans with the conservation of the marine environment.

Officials said the bill does not run counter to the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea, which guarantees ships the right of innocent passage.