Kyodo News on Feb. 25 ran an article with an incredible headline that said “Japan (now) can shoot at foreign government vessels attempting to land on the Senkaku Islands.” It’s incredible because when I sent this article to my American friend in San Francisco, he said he could not believe Japan could not shoot at invading foreign vessels. His comment hit the nail on the head. The following is the conversation we had over his reasonable questions and my answers.
No, it could not. Previously, government officials had explained that the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) was only allowed to fire weapons directly at foreign vessels in cases of self-defense or while trying to make an emergency escape. This means that unless the foreign vessels fired weapons or physically attacked it, the JCG could not respond in kind.