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The central government may force municipalities and prefectures to assist in dealing with the outbreak of armed conflicts in areas surrounding Japan, according to government sources.

To saddle the local governments with this obligation, revisions would have to be made to the 1999 law aimed at ensuring the nation’s peace and security if armed conflicts break out in the region, such as on the Korean Peninsula, the sources said.

The law stipulates a set of measures Japan is to take to ensure its peace and security in response to a regional crisis. One of the measures is logistic support by the Self-Defense Forces for U.S. forces engaging in armed operations.

The government has judged it necessary to expedite support for the U.S. military in such situations by making local governments play a role, following the recent final agreement between Tokyo and Washington on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the sources said.

Based on the judgment, the government has started to review a plan on Japan-U.S. cooperation in dealing with regional armed conflicts.

As part of the review, the government deemed it necessary to review the 1999 law so airports and other public facilities run by local governments can be utilized smoothly in the event of an emergency, the sources said.

At present, the law says the central government must ask for the necessary cooperation from the heads of local governments that operate such facilities as airports and harbors.

Under the planned revision, prefectures and cities would be obliged to meet central government requests for such cooperation, according to the sources.

The central government is also thinking about giving firefighters a responsibility to transport U.S. soldiers injured in armed operations in the region, and public hospitals to accept such soldiers, the sources said, adding the proposed revision is likely to trigger a harsh reaction from local governments.

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