• Kyodo

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The Japan Coast Guard plans to introduce a new system allowing it to control maritime traffic in crowded bays in times of tsunami disasters to prevent collisions and chaos, Coast Guard sources said Wednesday.

The Coast Guard will seek revision of laws to set up a new traffic control center in Yokohama by 2018 for ships sailing in Tokyo Bay. It also aims to strengthen controls at Ise Bay and Osaka Bay for smooth evacuation of vessels and transport of relief supplies during disasters, they said.

In the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March 2011, large vessels evacuated offshore from ports and concentrated in the central part of Tokyo Bay, heightening the risk of a severe accident, they said.

The Coast Guard is set to submit bills to amend the Maritime Traffic Safety Act and other laws covering navigation rules in busy waters during the next ordinary Diet session starting Jan. 4, they said.

At present, ships decide on their own how to navigate after leaving ports. While the Coast Guard’s maritime traffic centers can control vessels leaving and entering bays, no rules have been set over their navigation within the bays, making it difficult to control traffic during emergencies.

The Coast Guard also hopes the efficient control of ships would ease traffic in bays at normal times. For example, the time for a large ship to travel from the entrance of Tokyo Bay to Tokyo port would be cut by about 25 minutes from the current three hours and 10 minutes, the sources said.

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