Japanese ship foils pirate attack

An attempted pirate attack on a Japanese cargo vessel off Indonesia on Tuesday has alarmed shipping companies plying the Malacca Strait, a bottleneck that is critical for far eastern commerce.

About half of the world’s traded oil passes through the 550-mile channel, which links the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and is only 1.5 miles wide at its narrowest point. In recent years, hundreds of merchant ships have come under attack from pirates armed with automatic weapons, who use fast boats to track their target.