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The Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted its first drill using helicopters and ships to practice evacuating Japanese living abroad in case of emergencies near Japan.

About 1,200 members of the MSDF, 40 Ground Self-Defense Force members and five Foreign Ministry officials participated in the drill, conducted Sunday near Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and in Sagami Bay.

The drill follows the enactment of related laws in the last Diet session to cover the updated Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines, which expand the roles of the SDF during emergencies in areas surrounding Japan.

The revised law enables the SDF to use its vessels and aircraft to transfer Japanese.

Sunday’s drill started at around 9 a.m. Foreign Ministry officials acting as local embassy staff assisted the “evacuees” in leaving the country.

A person with a pet, a pregnant woman, a person seeking asylum in another country and a man armed with a knife were part of the scenario.

After the SDF members checked the baggage of the people with metal detectors, they were led to a small ship or helicopter that transferred them to five escort vessels waiting offshore.

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