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Japan is considering offering ¥30 billion ($289 million) in loans to Mauritius following a major oil spill in July off its coast caused by a Japanese freighter, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Sunday during a visit to the country.

Motegi said Japan will also start delivering technical support to restore the Mauritian environment and local fisheries industry from next month. Separately, Japan will also extend ¥600 million in grant aid to Mauritius to help its efforts to boost disaster risk reduction.

The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, owned by Nagashiki Shipping, ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius on July 25. More than 1,000 tons of oil began leaking from the vessel into the pristine environment on Aug. 6.

This aerial view taken Aug. 8 shows the Pointe d'Esny in Mauritius and the Grand Port in the background with a large patch of leaked oil. | AFP-JIJI
This aerial view taken Aug. 8 shows the Pointe d’Esny in Mauritius and the Grand Port in the background with a large patch of leaked oil. | AFP-JIJI

Local police later that month arrested the captain, an Indian national, together with the first officer, a Sri Lankan, on suspicion of negligence in operating the vessel. Despite not being legally responsible for the damage, the ship’s operator Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. has pledged about ¥1 billion in aid to Mauritius.

In September, Mauritius asked Japan to pay a total of 1.34 billion Mauritian rupees (¥3.6 billion) to support the local fishing industry affected by the oil leak. Under the proposed scheme, the Indian Ocean island nation has estimated that the construction of 100 fishing boats would require 1.2 billion rupees, with 9.7 million rupees needed to provide training for 475 fishers and 60 skippers unaccustomed to fishing in rough seas.

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