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Dispatching P3C patrol aircraft to areas off Somalia marks new stage of SDF missions abroad
Akahata editorial

Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu on May 15 ordered the Maritime Self-Defense Force to deploy two P3C patrol aircraft to areas off Somalia's coast on an anti-piracy mission together with two MSDF warships that are already there.'

After leaving Japan in late May, the P3Cs will begin operations in early June.

Airlifting and patrol missions with about 100 MSDF and about 50 Maritime SDF personnel based in Djibouti will be carried out.

The SDF unit will begin patrolling the waters off Somalia under the Self-Defense Forces Law for the time being until the new "anti-piracy law" is enacted.

If the P3Cs, armed with anti-submarine munitions, join the MSDF destroyers to take part in the multinational 'anti-pirates' operation in a vast area off the Horn of Africa, this will increase the danger of weapons being used for the first time since the end of World War II.

Japan has signed a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with Djibouti, which gives the Maritime and Air SDFs in Djibouti special privileges during the current "anti-piracy" mission in the waters off Somalia.

The agreement allows Japan to exercise jurisdiction over crimes committed by SDF personnel against people in Djibouti. This is a grave interference with the sovereignty of Djibouti. It is a copy of the Status of U.S. forces in Japan agreement (SOFA), which contains humiliating arrangements giving the U.S. the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel in relation to offenses arising out of any act done in the performance of official duty.

The Japan-Djibouti SOFA provides that in case SDF members kill Djiboutian people, both will negotiate a settlement with compensation. It does not include a provision that Djibouti can claim compensation for damages and losses, which is included in a similar SOFA with Kuwait.

While the Japan-Kuwait SOFA allows Kuwait to notify its intention to terminate the agreement, the Japan-Djibouti SOFA has no such provision.

Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi in the Diet hailed the agreement as being beneficial to Japan. He must be denounced for ignoring and trampling on the sovereignty of the African nation. How can the minister do this under the 'anti-pirate' mission pretext?

Japan's 'anti-pirate' mission should be supporting the rehabilitation of war-torn Somalia and enhancing the capabilities of coastal patrol by nations near Somalia.

Dispatching the SDF by the Japanese government must be halted because it goes against the Constitution. Instead, it should make diplomatic efforts for the settlement of the matter through peaceful means.

- Akahata May 18, 2009

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