Legislation to protect Japanese nationals in case of military emergencies should be debated within the framework of the existing Disaster Measures Basic Law and will require further discussions with the heads of municipal governments, Defense Agency Director General Shigeru Ishiba said Friday.

Ishiba’s remarks came during a meeting of Cabinet ministers.

Legislation to define the power and roles of the national and local governments in readiness for the effective running of evacuations and relief activities was excluded from the package of so-called emergency bills submitted to the Diet last year. The package will come into force within two years of the enactment of the emergency legislation.

“There are several differences between natural disasters and military attacks carried out by other countries,” Ishiba said at a news conference later in the day.

The main task of the government in the event of natural disasters, according to Ishiba, is to rescue people, while in military emergencies, the government should work to eliminate aggression.

Simply having the bill prepared in writing is insufficient, he said, referring to the government’s tardy response to the Great Hanshin Earthquake on Jan. 17, 1995.

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