The government plan to submit a bill in March to send Maritime Self-Defense Force ships off Somalia to join the fight against pirates is splitting the ranks of the Democratic Party of Japan and the rest of the opposition camp.

DPJ Vice President Seiji Maehara, an expert on security issues, said Thursday on the Asahi Newstar TV program that the mission would be best carried out by the MSDF instead of the Japan Coast Guard. He also suggested he supports a government plan to ease restrictions on the use of weapons.

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