Japan’s contributions to maritime stability in the Bay of Bengal

A floating dock of the Indian navy is pictured at the naval base at Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, 1 July 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Sanjeev Miglani).

Author: Michael van Ginkel, Stable Seas

Japan has a vested interest in contributing to regional maritime stability in the Bay of Bengal. It holds important Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) that open commercial opportunities by increasing connectivity with littoral countries. Japan has more actively contributed to the maritime stability and security efforts of countries like India, Myanmar and Bangladesh in its transition from isolationism to internationalism. While Japan’s expanding role in the Indo-Pacific has elicited close scrutiny, the potential for mutual economic gains has encouraged Japan to continue increasing its maritime presence in the Bay of Bengal.

Increasing regional stability in the Bay of Bengal has significant economic benefits for Japan as it imports almost 80 per cent of its foreign oil from Middle Eastern countries. Protecting its energy shipments through the SLOC in the Bay of Bengal remains imperative for Japan as it attempts to diversify its oil sources. Non-traditional threats of piracy, armed robbery and maritime terrorism threaten the security of these commercial shipping lanes.

Increasing connectivity with the rapidly developing economies of littoral countries provides Japan with many commercial opportunities. Myanmar experienced an average annual GDP growth of 7.2 per cent from 2012 to 2016, over twice the global average of 2.7 per cent. Highlighted in the Stable Seas: Bay of Bengal maritime security report, low coastal welfare, poor rule of law and under-developed blue economies in littoral countries diminishes the region’s economic potential and also acts as a catalyst for illicit activity, which further detracts from economic output. By contributing to coastal infrastructure and maritime law enforcement efforts, Japan has a positive impact on the region’s maritime stability and economic …continue reading