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Stop 'anti-piracy' bill that will pave the way for passage of permanent law to send SDF abroad
Akahata editorial

The Japanese Diet has begun discussing an "anti-piracy" bill that will allow the Maritime Self-Defense Force on its anti-piracy mission in waters off Somalia to protect foreign vessels and use weapons when considered necessary.

The enactment of this bill can pave the way for a permanent law to send SDF units abroad as called for by the Liberal Democratic and Democratic parties.

Use of arms to kill

The past and existing laws to dispatch the SDF abroad have allowed SDF personnel to use arms only to protect their own lives.

This bill calls for the removal of this restriction under the pretext of "anti-piracy" missions. The enactment of such a bill will lead to a free use of weapons.

The bill allows the MSDF to use weapons against pirates who are "approaching other vessels", "following them", or "blocking their way". If the MSDF fires at pirates without first being attacked, it will be recognized as a preemptive attack.

No geographical restrictions are applied to "anti-piracy" missions by the SDF. Furthermore, the bill allows it to protect all foreign vessels operating off Somalia. This amounts to exercising the right of collective self-defense, which is prohibited by the Constitution.

The government is trying to pack all these major changes into one bill and railroad it through under the pretext of participating in "anti-piracy" operations. In order to block the moves toward increasing SDF overseas operations, the bill must be thoroughly discussed at the Diet and then scrapped.

Financial and technical supports are essential

In order to crack down on pirates, it is necessary to help Somalia's neighboring countries strengthen their coastguards. The need now is to provide financial and technical support to those countries. Japan's participation in anti-piracy efforts in the Malacca Straits was commended internationally.

In order to resolve the issue of piracy, it is necessary to establish political and financial stability in Somalia, a country that has been devastated by the drawn-out civil war. International cooperation should focus on helping to achieve peace and a functioning government.

Japan should strengthen its diplomatic efforts, not send the SDF.

- Akahata, April 15, 2009

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