Cabinet backs letting SDF use land vehicles for overseas rescues

Kyodo

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday endorsed a revision to the Self-Defense Forces law that would allow emergency transportation of Japanese and other nationals overseas using land vehicles.

The government and the ruling parties will aim for approval of the bill in the current Diet session. It was compiled in response to the January hostage crisis in Algeria that resulted in the death of 10 Japanese.

Under the current law, the SDF can transport Japanese nationals who are overseas only by sea or air. The revision envisions enabling the SDF to transport nationals and foreigners in need of help in vehicles such as armored trucks.

With the revision, the SDF would also be able to provide emergency transport for their families and other parties, such as government officials, company employees overseas and medical personnel.

While the current law says transport shall be carried out only when safety is assured, the new bill says such operations can take place when transportation can be carried out safely after discussing the expected dangers and measures to avoid them.