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The ruling Liberal Democratic Party will seek legislation to deal with so-called gray-zone situations that are nearly as serious as armed attacks by an enemy over the Senkaku Islands, an early draft of the proposal showed Wednesday.

The National Defense and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism divisions of the ruling party are set to work out a proposal on the matter.

The early draft said there are limits to what the Self-Defense Forces can do under the current legal restrictions, bearing in mind frequent intrusions by Chinese coast guard ships into Japanese waters around the Japanese-administered islands. The uninhabited islets in the East China Sea are also claimed by Beijing, which calls them the Diaoyu.

“How to thoroughly deal with gray-zone situations should be considered, and necessary legislative action should be taken,” the draft said, calling for boosting the response capabilities of the Japan Coast Guard.

Regarding China’s new law allowing its coast guard ships to fire weapons against foreign vessels over what Beijing sees as violations of its sovereignty, the draft said that an intrusion by any Chinese coast guard ship into Japanese waters damages Japan’s legitimate interests and is totally unacceptable.

If the situation goes beyond what can be handled by the Japan Coast Guard or with the SDF’s maritime patrol activities, the government should recognize an armed attack situation under national security legislation and issue a defense operation order without hesitation, the draft said.

The draft also said that the SDF and other organizations should “constantly study” how Japan can improve its laws and operational procedures to better prepare for an invasion, a contingency related to Taiwan and a ballistic missile launch by North Korea.

In addition, the draft included a proposal that the Japan Coast Guard participate in joint drills between the SDF and the U.S. military.

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