Bill gives SDF rescue teams freer rein

Kyodo

The government plans to present to the Diet next week a bill to revise the Self-Defense Forces Law to make it possible for the SDF to transport Japanese nationals by land as part of rescue operations during emergencies abroad, a ruling party source said.

The bill, compiled in response to the January hostage crisis in Algeria that resulted in the deaths of 10 Japanese among other expatriate victims, is expected to be approved by the Cabinet before being sent to the Diet on April 19, the source said.

The Defense Ministry explained the bill Tuesday to a Liberal Democratic Party project team on protecting Japanese overseas. The draft was put together based on a report prepared by the LDP and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, in March.

But a senior LDP member said that even if the bill goes before the Diet, it may not be passed during the ongoing regular session that runs until June because the opposition camp, which controls the Upper House, will probably not back the legislation.