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The United States has raised with its allies, including Japan, the possibility of forming a coalition of the willing to protect commercial vessels in the Strait of Hormuz and Bab el-Mandeb (at the east end of the Red Sea) in the Middle East. Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya was quick to note that Japan is not thinking about exercising its right to collective self-defense. Meanwhile, another Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker and a defense expert, Akihisa Nagashima, commented on Facebook that it would be appropriate for Japan to invoke the “maritime patrol” clause in the Self-Defense Forces Law as a unilateral action in order to help sweep mines from the sea lanes.

This reluctance within the LDP against dispatching the Maritime Self-Defense Force specifically under the 2015 security legislation, which partially opened the door for Japan to engage in collective self-defense, reflects the legal limitations this nation faces. Japan’s participation will be limited by its scope of permissible activities.

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