Jakarta communicates with representatives in Japan, Taiwan on ‘missing’ Indonesian sailors

On March 5 afternoon, Japanese coastguards spotted a vessel, reported to have been carrying seven people, capsized and drifting in waters north of the Senkaku Islands.

Yvette Tanamal

Yvette Tanamal

The Jakarta Post


This handout photo taken on March 5, 2023 and released on March 6 by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters shows an overturned boat drifting in waters north of the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands, also claimed by China and known as the Diaoyu Islands, by a Japanese navy patrol in the area. Japan's coastguard said on March 6 it was searching for seven people missing after their boat capsized and was spotted in waters off the disputed islands.(APP/Handout/11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters)

March 7, 2023

JAKARTA – The Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was coordinating with the embassy in Japan and the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (KDEI) in Taipei after six Indonesian crewmembers reportedly went missing after their boat capsized in the disputed Senkaku Islands, an official has said.

On Sunday afternoon, Japanese coastguards spotted a vessel, reported to have been carrying seven people, capsized and drifting in waters north of the Senkaku Islands, an area also claimed by China. Six Indonesians were among the crew, as well as one Taiwan national, said Japanese coastguard spokesman Keisuke Nakao to AFP on Monday.

No further details about the vessel were available yet, said Nakao, although adding that it was likely to be a fishing boat.

“We have been searching the area with [the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s] patrol ships and helicopters since receiving the information at around 1:30 p.m., on Sunday,” Nakao said, adding that authorities in Tokyo were coordinating with their counterparts in Taiwan on the matter.

It remains unclear how the vessel capsized and Jakarta has yet to confirm whether Indonesian sailors were indeed on board.

“There will be an update as soon as possible,” Judha Nugraha, the Foreign Ministry’s citizen protection director, said on Monday.

Taiwan, meanwhile, confirmed in a statement that the vessel was a Taiwan-registered fishing boat, and was thought to have capsized near one of the Senkaku Islands. “The National Rescue Command Center has contacted Taiwanese fishing boats near the site of the accident to assist in the search. Taiwanese and Japanese coastguards have also dispatched ships for search and rescue,” the statement said, as reported by AFP.

The disputed Senkaku Islands, controlled by Japan, are claimed by China, which refers to the island group as Diaoyu.

Located 190 nautical miles from the southwest coast of Okinawa, 200 miles from the Chinese east coast and 120 miles from Taiwan’s northwest coast, the three uninhabited islands, Uotsuri, Kuba and Taisho, strategically lie on important sea lines of communication across the East China Sea.

In 1969, the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East conducted a survey that said that the area “may be one of the most prolific oil reservoirs in the world”.

The disagreement surrounding the islands’ territorial sovereignty has, for decades, soured China-Japan relations, with recent years witnessing an increased presence of both Japanese and Chinese vessels in nearby waters, the South China Morning Post reports.

Amid the unresolved disputes in the area, research from at least 2010 has indicated rife illegal fishing taking place around the islands.

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