Japan’s contribution to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia or short CGPCS is a political coordination body, which began its operations in January 2009 (from here on, it will simply be called contact group). Japan joined the contact group in November 2009 and has participated in all of its plenary sessions since then. Japanese participants are usually composed of a delegation from the International Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Early on, it became clear that the military component of the counter-piracy mission discussed in CGPCS Working Group 1 had to be supported by a financial support mechanism to facilitate the setting up of a legal framework in the countries of the region. In the Contact Group's second plenary session on March 17, 2009, Japan supported and worked towards Working Group 2’s agreement to establish an International Trust Fund, to ‘help defray the expenses associated with the prosecution of suspected pirates’

(CGPCS, 2009a). The trust fund was endorsed at the third plenary meeting on May 29, 2009, in New York (CGPCS, 2009b). Japan has a long history of providing financial and capacity-building contributions to military operations from the First Gulf War (1991), disarmament assistance on the ground in Afghanistan, to support for coast guards under the ReCAAP framework in South East Asia. This was probably a central reason why Japan strongly supported the International Tmst Fund and the development of better regional capabilities in the third contact group plenary meeting. Subsequently, Japan was asked to chair the fourth contact group's plenary meeting on September 10, 2009.

As a chair, Japan embraced the effective implementation of the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) Djibouti Code of Conduct, a multi-donor trust fund, initiated by Japan. Japan considers the establishment of the IMO Djibouti Trust Fund to be one of the most important achievements of its activities in the Contact Group (Interview with Yoshihiro Katayama, July 2014). The core objective of this trust fund was the establishment of an information-sharing center in Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen, as well as the Djibouti Regional Training Center (DRTC) (CGPCS, 2009c, p. 2). While the IMO Djibouti Trust Fund was initiated by Japan, it was stressed that it was open to financial support from all participants (CGPCS, 2009c).

The CGPCS International Trust Fund was set up in January 2010 by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, following up on the decisions made in the CGPCS. The IMO Djibouti Trust Fund established and administered by the IMO, which is a stakeholder in the CGPCS, is a simpler structure with only one fund and governing body. At the time of the tenth contact group plenary session held on November 17, 2011, contact group members saw the necessity to react to increased public anger about the large number of seafarers who had been held captive and the physical and psychological suffering that was increasingly reported in the media (although the number of crews being held hostage had actually already declined) (CGPCS, 2011). Despite the increasingly close international coordination of the military forces, these efforts were still considered insufficient.

While an increase in the number of deployed maritime force vessels was considered desirable, the contact group also recognized the growing use of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) and the fact that no vessel with privately contracted armed security personnel on board had been successfully pirated (CGPCS, 2011). However, it also saw the necessity to increase regulation and oversight by the IMO of privately contracted armed security personnel. The counter-piracy operation provided valuable opportunities for cooperation, especially between independent deployers, which would have either not have happened outside of this mission, or on a much more limited scale. An example can be seen in the cooperation between Japan, China, India, Russia, and the Republic of Korea in the convoy operations in the Gulf of Aden (CGPCS, 2011).

While Japan has only once been the chair of the CGPCS, its coordinating role increased somewhat again in May 2014, when Japan became co-chair with the Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates of the CGPCS Working Group 3

(Maritime Counter Piracy and Mitigation Operations) (CGPCS, 2014). Japan continued to be a co-chair of Working Group 3 until May 2016 (CGPCS, 2016).

The CGPCS encouraged its member states to increase the cooperation of its maritime forces with the three main counter-piracy missions, the EUNAVFOR mission ATALANTA, the CMF, and the NATO Operation Ocean Shield (OOS). In June 2013, the Japanese government decided that the MSDF's destroyer JS Samidare would join the CTF151 beginning in December 2013, allowing it to prevent piracy attacks outside of the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) (CGPCS, 2013).

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