Relaxing legal restraints on the Self-Defense Forces may be necessary to enable the government to better combat terrorism overseas, Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama said May 12.

The remark by the government’s top spokesman on the the possibility of legislative changes to allow police to obtain SDF cooperation in fighting terrorism came on the heels of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s meeting in Lima with Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. During the meeting, Hashimoto said he is thinking of dispatching Japan’s antiterrorism police task force overseas for training.

Hashimoto returned to Tokyo early May 12 from the trip to thank Fujimori for the rescue of hostages taken at the Japanese ambassador’s residence Kajiyama, speaking at a news conference, said the government “must take steps” to enable the nation to never give in to terrorism. “If (the government’s effort toward that end) requires a revision of laws, there is no reason for the government to refrain from submitting the necessary bills,” Kajiyama said.

He said that because the majority of the public remains cautious about sending SDF personnel overseas to cope with emergencies, antiterrorist training has mostly fallen on police. But he said that under the current system, there is a limit that the police antiterrorism task force can do when an incident involving Japanese occurs on foreign soil.

Kajiyama went on to say the government needs to explore possible police-SDF cooperation in antiterrorist operations. Police have a special squad to cope with terrorism, but it remains uncertain if the unit can be sent overseas quickly in an emergency similar to the Lima incident.

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