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MSDF to join drill in Gulf of Aden

Kyodo

The administration has decided that one of the two Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels patrolling against pirates off Somalia will join a combined drill involving the United States and other countries, a government source said.

The move is aimed at raising Japan’s profile on the international stage, the source said Friday, adding it will be the first time an MSDF vessel stationed in that part of the world will take part in such an exercise.

Analysts however said it could draw criticism as an escalation of military use abroad.

The mission off Somalia began in March 2009 based on the SDF law and has been conducted under an anti-piracy law that was enacted that June.

Two MSDF vessels have been dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to protect commercial vessels of Japan and other countries. The one-year mission has been extended every year since 2010.

Given the sharp fall in piracy attacks in the area, the Abe administration is planning for one of the vessels to participate in the large-scale drill in the Gulf of Aden, which will include Britain, China and other countries in addition to the United States military.

The Cabinet is expected to approve the extension of the anti-piracy dispatch by a year ahead of the current term’s expiration July 23.