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The Defense Ministry might divert a refueling ship engaged in U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in the Indian Ocean to back its expected antipiracy mission off Somalia, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Tuesday.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force ship is refueling destroyers from Japan and ships from other nations, but sending it to the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden might provoke criticism that the missions are being mismanaged.

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