Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed relevant ministers of his Cabinet Tuesday to draw up a draft plan to prepare hospital ships so that such vessels can be operated from fiscal 2025.

The instruction was given at the first meeting of the government's task force on the use of ships as bases for medical activities at sea in the event of disasters or infectious disease outbreaks.

The government will work out details, including how to operate such ships, so that the ship preparation plan can be drafted by year-end.

The envisioned hospital ships would evacuate disaster victims to other areas while giving them medical treatment and stay based at ports near disaster-hit areas to provide medical care.

The government aims to own hospital ships eventually, but initially, it will utilize privately-owned car ferries including those under contract with the Defense Ministry.

At the meeting, Kishida said that ships were used to help victims of the Jan. 1 Noto Peninsula earthquake in central Japan and transport relief supplies.

"In our country, surrounded by the sea, there are situations in which approaching disaster areas from the sea and providing medical care are effective," he said.

Kishida also instructed the ministers to secure budget funds, study best practices seen abroad and promote human resources development in preparation for a future large-scale disaster.