The Lower House began deliberating on an antipiracy bill Tuesday to create a permanent law that would let the Maritime Self-Defense Force protect ships of any nationality against pirates and remove certain limits on the MSDF's use of force.

Prime Minister Taro Aso told the chamber that a new antipiracy law must be enacted quickly because of the dramatic increase in pirate attacks off Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, and the need for Japan to play a bigger role in solving the international problem.

"Piracy is a life-or-death matter that threatens Japan's national interests of securing the safety of transport by sea," Aso said. "The pirates off the coast of Somalia are especially a threat to the international community, including Japan, and emergency measures need to be taken."