Tokyo, Dec 25 (EFE).- Japanese shipping companies are to change their shipping routes to avoid the Red Sea and the increasingly frequent attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, who seek to prevent ships related to Israel from sailing off their coast.
Nippon Yusen (NYK Line), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), the three largest Japanese shipping companies, will alter the course of their freighters to instead travel around the tip of South Africa, public broadcaster NHK reported Monday.
The shipping companies, as well as the container carrier they jointly operate, Ocean Network Express, will go around the Cape of Good Hope, despite the fact that by far the shortest waterway connecting Asia with Europe is through the Suez Canal, in the north of the Red Sea.
The decision comes hours after the US Department of Defense announced that a Japanese-owned chemical tanker – Liberian flagged and Dutch operated – was attacked on Saturday in the Indian Ocean by a drone believed to have been launched from Iran.
The attack caused a fire but left no injuries among its 20 Indian and one Vietnamese crew members.
The ship had left Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and was heading to the Indian port of Mangalore when it was attacked, and rerouted to Mumbai for damage assessment and repairs with the help of the Indian Coast Guard, according to details published by the Japanese news agency Kyodo.
According to American media, the ship is thought to have ties to Israel.
Changes in shipping routes are raising concerns about cargo delays and increases in transportation costs.
The recent escalation of attacks launched from Yemeni territory, which has included ship hijackings, puts global trade on alert in the crucial Red Sea route. EFE