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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 20 - 26  > Warships arrogantly push way through crowded Tokyo Bay area
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2008 February 20 - 26 [SDF]

Warships arrogantly push way through crowded Tokyo Bay area

February 21, 2008
The Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Atago collided with a fishing boat in the water area adjacent to Tokyo Bay, one of the busiest waterways in the world with about 280,000 ships passing through each year.

Because many important ports, such as Yokohama, Tokyo, and Kawasaki, are concentrated in Tokyo Bay, 500 to 700 ships, including 10,000-ton class tankers, everyday go through Uraga Channel to enter the bay. There are always many ships waiting in turn to enter the bay.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Navy and MSDF deploy nearly 50 warships at their bases in Yokosuka Port located at the entrance of Tokyo Bay. The U.S. warships include the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, command ship Blue Ridge, and nine Aegis destroyers. U.S. nuclear-powered submarines also frequently visit Yokosuka. The MSDF permanently stations nearly 40 ships, including the Aegis destroyer Kirishima. Many MSDF ships deployed to other bases across the country also enter Yokosuka such as the Atago, which is based in Maizuru on the coast of the Japan Sea.

In addition, various U.S. military transport ships frequently come to Yokohama Port where the U.S. Army North Dock is located.

Warships go through not only the waters exclusively for military use but also the ones for private vessels. Information regarding when they pass or which route they take is deemed “military secret” and thus banned from being released.

Fishing boats are always facing danger of collision in the area.

Many fishing boats head south to fishing grounds through the area where the collision occurred, said a fisheries cooperative in Chiba Prefecture that the ill-fated fishing boat belonged to. At the time of the accident, 17 boats from the cooperative were fishing in the area.

“Even when military ships have the obligation to avoid collision, we almost always have to dodge them,” they explained.

MSDF ships’ “military first” attitude of arrogance is behind the background of the accident.
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