• Kyodo News

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The Defense Ministry and the coast guard conducted a computer exercise Monday ahead of the dispatch this month of Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers for antipiracy patrols off Somalia.

Some 150 participants took part in the exercise at the MSDF Staff College in Tokyo, simulating such action as use of weapons in the event a convoy of commercial ships escorted by MSDF destroyers coming under attack from pirates.

MSDF personnel will be bound to follow a law governing police conduct, allowing them to use force only in limited circumstances, including self-defense.

In the drill, officials checked how a deployed unit would ask for instructions from senior officers and how ministries and agencies would share information in the event pirates tried to board a merchant ship despite repeated warnings.

The participants discussed how their organizations should deal with difficult scenarios, including a possible attack on a ship that Japanese destroyers are not expected to protect.

Among the participants were officials from the Justice and Foreign ministries.

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