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Last week, a massive container ship wedged itself between both banks of the Suez Canal in Egypt, completely blocking the waterway and affecting 10% of the world’s trade traffic. I could not keep silent about the matter, having been to the canal several times, as I spent two years beginning in 1979 in Cairo studying Arabic during my training stage at the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

It was indeed a perfect diplomatic dilemma: The container ship was a Japanese-owned, Taiwanese-operated, German-managed, Panamanian-flagged and Indian-manned behemoth of a vessel that now finds itself under Egyptian jurisdiction. I cannot think of any other maritime crises more complicated and multi-faceted than this one.

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