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Japan prepares for antipiracy mission off Somalia

JAPANESE Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the Maritime Self-Defense Forces today to prepare for an antipiracy mission off Somalia in a bid to protect Japanese and Japan-linked ships from pirates' attacks.

In line with Article 82 of the Self-Defense Forces Law, which governs policing action on the seas, the MSDF will dispatch two destroyers, according to an outline of the operational guidelines for the MSDF released yesterday.

And each of the vessels will be equipped with two SH60K helicopters and two high-speed boats, to be used by the Special Boarding Unit in the event of a pirate attack on a merchant ship.

Under the maritime policing provision, the MSDF will protect only Japan-related vessels, including Japanese-registered ships and foreign vessels with Japanese nationals or shipments aboard.

The dispatch of the MSDF, the first overseas military deployment under the SDF law, is expected to take place in March at the earliest after training and other preparatory work is finished.


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