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The Defense Agency has been dispatching private-sector civilian engineers to carry out maintenance on Self-Defense Forces vessels providing logistics support to the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign in the Indian Ocean, agency officials said Friday.

A total of 16 civilian engineers were sent on five occasions in the months of July, August and October to fix equipment, including radar, aboard four SDF vessels during port calls in countries on the Indian Ocean. The vessels included the destroyer Asakaze and the supply ship Hamana, the officials said at a House of Representatives Security Committee meeting.

The agency declined to reveal the names of the private enterprises involved.

The antiterrorism special measures law, under which the SDF vessels were deployed overseas for the first time since World War II, contains no provisions on the dispatch of civilians.

The dispatch of the civilians came under the agency’s law regarding replenishment of supplies and management of the vessels and the procurement of services, according to the officials.

“The locations of the dispatches were areas where there were no combat activities and the operations were conducted based on contracts and agreements with the private sector,” Defense Agency Counselor Atsushi Oi said.

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