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Japan PM Shinzo Abe makes landmark visit to Pearl Harbor

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  • As Romanian president rejects nomination of Muslim woman for PM

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has visited the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, where he offered “sincere and everlasting condolences” to the victims of Japan’s attack on the base 75 years ago.

“We must never repeat the horrors of war again, this is the solemn vow the people of Japan have taken,” he said.

Mr Abe was accompanied by US President Barack Obama, making the visit the first by the leaders of both countries.

Japan devastated much of the base in 1941, killing 2,300 US servicemen.

Mr Abe paid tribute to the men who lost their lives at the naval base, many of whom remain entombed in the wreckage of the USS Arizona, sunk by the Japanese that day, and vowed reconciliation and peace.

He said: “To the souls of the US servicemen who lie aboard the USS Arizona, to the American people, and all people around the world, I pledge that unwavering vow.”

He went on to praise the US for its efforts to mend relations with Japan following the war between the two countries, which ended shortly after the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945.

And he called the renewed alliance between the countries an “alliance of hope”.

Mr Obama also paid tribute to the dead, saying that he had laid a wreath on “waters that still weep”.

“That morning the ranks on those men’s shoulders reflected them less than the courage in their hearts,” he said.

He said he welcomed Mr Abe “in the spirit of friendship, in the manner Japan has always welcomed me”.

In the meantime, Romania’s president has rejected a proposal by the leftist party that won elections this month to appoint the country’s first female and first Muslim prime minister.

Klaus Iohannis gave no reasons for rejecting the nomination of Sevil Shhaideh, put forward by the Social Democrats (PSD), but there was speculation that it may have been due to her Syrian husband’s background.

“I have properly analysed the arguments for and against and I have decided not to accept this proposal,” the president said in a televised statement. “I call on the PSD coalition to make another proposal.”

The PSD won 45% of the vote on 11 December. Its leader, Liviu Dragnea, withdrew his own bid to become prime minister because he is serving a two-year suspended sentence for fraud in a previous election.

Shhaideh’s political experience is limited, having served as development minister for just five months before the previous PSD-led government resigned in late 2015. This and her personal closeness to Dragnea – he was a witness at her wedding – stoked opposition accusations that she would merely be his puppet.

Shhaideh’s Muslim faith is not thought to have been a problem for Iohannis. Instead, the focus may have been on her Syrian husband, whom she married in 2011.

According to the non-profit investigative journalism group the Rise Project, he has several times expressed support for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and for the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah.

He worked in the Syrian agriculture ministry for 20 years before emigrating in 2011, according to media reports and Dragnea. He then served as an adviser to the Romanian agriculture ministry and gained citizenship in 2015.

Cătălin Predoiu, a former justice minister from the centre-right National Liberal party, said on Facebook that he could not see how Shhaideh could get the security clearance needed to be prime minister. Giving her the job would “give her access to defence information classified as secret, including from Nato,” he wrote.

Andrei Ţăranu, a political analyst, said: “In the absence of any explanations by the president, I suppose that his rejection is linked to questions of national security and because the United States would not have been very keen.”

The website HotNews cited unnamed sources as saying the security services had “strongly cautioned” against Shhaideh’s nomination because of the closeness to the Assad regime of her husband and his two brothers.

Dragnea was due to make a statement on Tuesday afternoon responding to the rejection. Some in his party called for Iohannis to be suspended.

Ţăranu said: “Either the PSD shows its wisdom by making a new proposal [for prime minister] or we move towards fresh elections.” He said an attempt by the PSD to remove the president would be problematic because under the constitution Iohannis is entitled to request a second proposal for prime minister.

The PSD’s election triumph came barely a year after anger over a deadly nightclub fire that killed 64 people forced it from office. The inferno inside the Colectiv club was blamed on corrupt officials turning a blind eye to a lack of fire precautions. Poor medical care also contributed to the death toll.

BBC with additional report from Guardian

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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