Japan moves to bolster its shrinking fleet

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 July, 1996, 12:00am

The Japan Transport Ministry has called for measures to curb the decreasing numbers of Japanese-registered ships and Japanese seamen.

The appeal, in an annual white paper on shipping, says transfer of shipping registration to tax havens such as Liberia and increasing employment of foreign seamen at low wages will weaken international competitiveness of the domestic ocean-going shipping industry.

The paper calls on the government to bolster the merchant fleet by taking into account measures used in the United States and European countries such as tax breaks and mandatory regulations on the minimum number of a nation's seamen on board domestic vessels.

The ministry will study measures including cuts in ship registration and fixed asset taxes and requirements for shipowners to give advance notification of transfers of ship registrations to tax havens.

The number of domestically registered ships stands at 218, accounting for 11 per cent of the nation's fleet of about 2,000 vessels - a sharp drop from 51 per cent recorded in 1980.