The government on Friday submitted to the Diet a bill to allow the Self-Defense Forces to inspect civilian vessels at sea to enforce economic sanctions in the event of contingencies in areas surrounding Japan.
Officials from the government and three ruling parties hope to have the bill enacted during the current Diet session through Dec. 1.
However, the Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties are expected to call on the ruling camp to deliberate the bill carefully.
The ship-inspection bill would finalize a series of moves to authorize Japan’s logistic support for U.S. forces in an emergency in line with the 1997 Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines.
Under the bill, the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japan Coast Guard will have the power to inspect the cargo and destination of nonmilitary vessels and demand that they change their destination and route if necessary to ensure economic sanctions are not being violated.
The original draft, which was drawn up by the government in 1998, required a U.N. Security Council resolution on the sanctions as a prerequisite for ship inspections.
The final version of the bill endorsed by the government Friday allows MSDF and coast guard officers to inspect vessels only with the consent of the vessels’ flag states.
The bill also allows the officers to use firearms to protect themselves or their colleagues but fails to stipulate whether they may fire warning shots.
It is uncertain whether the Diet will pass the bill during the ongoing session.
given the time needed to discuss bills already submitted, a government source said.
The other bills include legislation aimed at revising the Juvenile Law to curb crimes committed by youths and a corruption bill to ban politicians from accepting money or goods in exchange for influencing civil servants.
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