Japan proposes alternatives to Suez Canal

In April 2021, a container ship called “Ever Given” blocked the Suez Canal. This stopped more than 400 ships from transiting the canal. This caused a global trade loss of 9 billion USD. It was popularly called the Suez Canal Blockade.

Background

The Ever Given Cargo ship was owned by Shoei Kisen Kaisha. It was built by Imabari Ship Building. Both were Japanese companies. They are still locked in negotiations with the Egyptian Government.

The Blockade highlighted the vulnerabilities of Suez route for the Japanese.

Thus, Japan is moving towards the potential alternatives.

Alternatives to Suez Canal

  • The two potential alternatives for Japan are reliant on Russia. One is the Trans-Siberian Railway and the other is the Northern Sea Route.
  • These goals were in fact promoted by Russia. In May 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the “Executive Order on National Goals and Strategic Objectives of the Russian Federation”.
  • The melting of Arctic ice is making the Northern sea route a viable option.
  • Between June and December these routes require ice breakers. In spite of this, Japan is increasing its ships through this region. In 2020 more than 133 Japanese ships traversed through this route. It was only 87 in 2019.
  • Apart from the sea routes, Japan is trying to use the Trans Siberian Railways

Trans Siberian Railway

It is a network of Railways connecting western Russia to the Russian far east. It starts from Moscow and ends at Vladivostok. Vladivostok is close to North Korea-Russia border.

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