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Japan may end Antarctic whaling

The possibility of Japan discontinuing whaling is now mentioned as an option Japan has raised the possibility of ending its annual whale hunt in the Antarctic.In a review conducted by Japan's fisheries agency, the possibility of Japan discontinuing whaling in the Antarctic is mentioned as an option.It is the first time any Japanese Government agency has raised the possibility of putting an end to so-called research whaling.But the report also includes the option of continuing the program, as well as scaling it down.The review was set up after the Sea Shepherd conservation group forced an early end to Japanese whaling in the Antarctic in February.Source: Radio Australia/ PACNews

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Oceanographers urge more stringent monitoring of radioactivity at sea

Call for more highly sensitive analysis methods The Oceanographic Society of Japan on July 25 urged the government to more stringently analyze radioactivity in seawater to get a precise picture of the contamination from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which is checking seawater in the Pacific Ocean off Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures, has reported that many radioactive substances are "not detectable" at many sampling locations.A proposal presented by the society said this lack of information is because the measurement method is not stringent enough.For example, the detection threshold for cesium-137 is currently about 9 becquerels per liter, and any value below this limit is labeled "not detectable."The oceanographers called for more highly sensitive analysis methods because even radioactivity on the order of a few becquerels per liter could accumulate in fish and shellfish, and thus the food chain."If fish and shellfish live long spans of time, they could come to contain several hundred becquerels of cesium per kilogram in their body tissues," the oceanographers warned.Source: AJW

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Japan Extends Anti-Piracy Efforts

Mission allows authorities take action on uncooperative pirate boats Japan will extend the Self-Defense Forces' anti-piracy mission in the waters off Somalia for another year starting July 23.The SDF also opened its first overseas base since the end of World War II in Djibouti, Somalia's neighboring country, earlier this month to further strengthen its anti-piracy operations off Somalia.The Anti-Piracy Law, which was enacted in Japan's Parliament on June 19, 2009, and took effect on July 24, 2009, allows the SDF to escort foreign commercial ships and fire at pirate boats if they ignore warning signals and approach merchant ships.Japan's post-World War II pacifist constitution imposes strict restrictions on the SDF's activities abroad. The SDF had previously been allowed to escort only Japan-related ships, such as Japanese-registered and Japanese-operated vessels, and its use of weapons had been limited to legitimate self-defense.According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, SDF vessels escorted a total of 1,858 commercial ships in the waters of the Gulf of Aden off Somalia between July 28, 2009, and June 30, 2011, to protect them against pirate attacks under the Anti-Piracy Law.Of the 1,858 commercial ships escorted by the SDF vessels on 217 occasions during the ...

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Sekimizu said that Japan should play leading role in developing international shipping rules

Permanent standards for governments to allow private armed security agents Japan should continue playing a leading role in working out international regulatory standards for shipping, including those for fuel efficiency of vessels, for the sake of Japan's national interests, Koji Sekimizu, incoming chief of the International Maritime Organization, said.International standards incorporating Japanese ideas are beneficial to Japan as Japanese shipbuilders and shipping companies can readily adapt to them, Sekimizu, 58, said during a press interview.Japan's leading role in developing international shipping rules will be appreciated internationally and thus will lead to its national interests, he said, noting that Tokyo has considerably contributed to the preparation of standards for reducing the emission of global warming gases from ships.Sekimizu, director of the IMO's Maritime Safety Division, will become the first Japanese to assume the post of secretary general next January at the London-based U.N. agency, which has 169 member countries and specializes in maritime security and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.Noting that pirate activities are increasing especially in the Indian Ocean, Sekimizu said there should be permanent standards for governments to allow private armed security agents to board ships.Source: Kyodo News

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A powerful earthquake struck off northeastern coast of Japan on Sunday

No immediate reports of injuries or damage A powerful earthquake struck off Japan's northeastern coast on Sunday. Tsunami advisories were issued following the Japan earthquake, Tokyo Breaking News reported. The alert was later lifted.According to Reuters, Fukushima nuclear plant workers evacuated to higher ground following the earthquake, with no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Tokyo Electric Power said that there did not appear to be any further damage at the nuclear plant.In March, Japan's earthquake and tsunami devastated the country, and wreaked havoc at the Fukushima nuclear plant.The Associated Press reports:The quake hit at 9:57 local time (0057 GMT), and a warning of a tsunami was issued for most of the northeastern coastline. The epicenter of the quake was in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan's main island, Honshu, at a depth of about 20 miles (30 kilometers).Japanese officials predicted the quake could generate tsunami of up to 20 inches (50 centimeters), but the initial waves were only about 4 inches (10 centimeters).The tsunami warning was lifted after the forecast arrival time of the waves passed in most areas without any tsunami being recorded.Japan's Meteorological agency at first estimated the strength of the quake at 7.1, but ...

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Japan is looking to get involved in Vietrnamese ports and shipping sector

Increasing international interest in Vietnam's port sector The Japanese government, investors, contractors, and shipping lines are all looking to get involved in the Vietnamese ports and shipping sector, said the London-based Business Monitor International's (BMI) Vietnam freight transport report for 2011's third quarter, according to Vietnam News Briefs Service.Japanese interest in Vietnam's ports and shipping industry was surging, BMI noted, cited Kobe Steel as saying it will build its own US$244 million to $365 million port in Vietnam to secure iron nugget supplies.Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) will deploy Europe-bound container vessels for the first time that will have a handling capacity of 6,500 TEUs. MOL will operate 10 such vessels through Vietnam on a weekly basis.Besides, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) was to launch freight services between Southeast Asian countries in association with state-run Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines).Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha ("K'' Line) along with a Vietnamese logistics firm will establish a joint venture in Hanoi to operate an international freight forwarding business by sea and air. The venture was also considering establishing a branch in Ho Chi Minh City.Meanwhile, Japan International Cooperation Agency was funding the bulk of the US$1.7 billion to Lach Huyen's new port project in the ...

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China slams Japan after confrontation at sea

Between a Taiwanese fishing boat and a Japanese coast guard vessel China's Foreign Ministry lambasted Japan yesterday after a confrontation between a Taiwanese fishing boat and a Japanese coast guard vessel near a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea."The Diaoyu Islands and attached islets have been Chinese territory since ancient times, and China has incontrovertible sovereignty over them," ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a brief statement on the ministry's website (www.mfa.gov.cn)."Any actions taken by Japan in the seas around the Diaoyu Islands are illegal and invalid," he added, referring to the incident with the fishing boat.China and Japan have bickered for years over the group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, which are also claimed by Taiwan.Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference in Tokyo that the Japanese Coast Guard found a Taiwanese fishing boat approaching the islands and warned the boat not to enter Japanese waters."From the viewpoints of history and international law, there is no doubt that the Senkaku islands are our inherent territory," Edano said.Source: The Peninsula

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Japan to strengthen shipbuilding industry

Intends to heighten the global competitive edge of Japan's shipyards The Japanese government is working with industry players to establish some basic guidelines in a move to strengthen the country's shipbuilding industry.The ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism (MLIT) intends to heighten the global competitive edge of Japan's shipyards through industry restructuring and business revamp.The broad outline of the guidelines include corporate alliance and business consolidation, entering new market and new sector, and strengthening the maritime cluster.Shipyards that develop their business according to those directors would receive tax incentives or other regulatory benefits.Meanwhile, the Japan Ship Exporters' Association announced Tuesday that Japanese shipbuilders signed 18 newbuilding orders totalling 550,000 gross tonnes in May, down 41% year-on-year in gross tonnes terms.Source: Seatrade-Asia

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Fisheries Agency opposes plan to release water containing radiation

Although TEPCO told that it will release the water after removing radioactive substances Tokyo Electric Power Cos plan to release water containing traces of radioactive materials from the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant to the sea has been stopped due to stiff opposition from the Fisheries Agency, sources close to the mater said Wednesday.Although TEPCO told the agency that it will release the water after removing radioactive substances to an undetectable level, the agency is not approving the plan, leaving the fate of the 3,000 tons of the water accumulated in the nuclear power station, located 15 kilometers south from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, undecided.If the water remains in tanks for a prolonged time, the storage facility may be corroded by salt in the water.After being flooded by tsunami following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, the Fukushima Daini power station saw about 7,000 tons of water accumulate in its facilities.Of the water, 3,000 tons in the reactor, turbine and other buildings has been found to contain a small amount of radioactive materials such as cobalt.TEPCO initially planned to let the water stay in the tank, but changed its mind after seeing ...

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Maersk Line resumes services at two Japanese ports damaged by the earthquake on March 11

The Port of Hachinohe and the Port of Sendai Maersk Line, the world's largest container shipping firm, announced the partial resumption of services at two Japanese ports damaged by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern part of the country on March 11.The Port of Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture and the Port of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, will resume partial services, Maersk K.K., Maersk Lines Japanese subsidiary, said Monday.Maersk Lines services -- for both exports and imports -- had been completely suspended at the Port of Hachinohe, the Port of Sendai and the Port of Onahama in Fukushima Prefecture -- since the March 11 twin natural disasters.The three ports are all located on the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region, which bore the brunt of the disasters.Maersk Lines services at the Port of Hachinohe and the Port of Sendai have been suspended due to heavy damage to terminal facilities and barge and feeder service suspension caused by the huge earthquake and tsunami, Maersk K.K. said in a press release.Now that we confirm the operational feasibility after repair works and resumption of barge and feeder service, we are pleased to announce that Maersk Line partly re-opens acceptance at those ...

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