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The government may let the Maritime Self-Defense Force protect unrelated ships from pirates off Somalia and elsewhere, but only if they are nearby, government sources said Saturday.

A bill for a new antipiracy law that is being drafted will not force MSDF ships to protect foreign vessels attacked in distant waters, the sources said, implying that restrictions on their use of weapons during antipiracy operations under the Self-Defense Forces Law is not likely to be significantly eased.

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