The Diet has enacted a law that will enable the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces for antipiracy missions at any time and anywhere in the world. Two Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyers are now in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, joined by two P3C antisubmarine patrol planes. Their antipiracy mission is based on the “maritime police actions” clause of the SDF Law. The legal basis of the mission will be changed soon.

Although the new law gives the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) a primary role in antipiracy operations, the reality is that the SDF does the main job of escorting merchant ships in seas distant from Japan. The government should strengthen the JCG’s capabilities to enable it to play the leading role. This would also help prevent possible diplomatic rows.

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