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Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Friday he has been ordered by Prime Minister Taro Aso to consider sending Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels on an antipiracy mission off Somalia.

After building a consensus within the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc, the government may issue an order for maritime police action in line with the Self-Defense Forces Law as early as in January with a view to providing protection to Japanese ships from pirate activities from sometime in February.

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