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2009年2月 6日 (金)

海賊対策新法 武器使用権限の拡大が肝要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 6, 2009)

MSDF needs greater authority to use weapons

海賊対策新法 武器使用権限の拡大が肝要だ(26日付・読売社説)

A crackdown by Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel on pirates would be done in accordance with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and a U.N. Security Council resolution. Therefore, there is no need to worry that the use of weapons by Self-Defense Forces in such activities could be regarded as a use of force prohibited by the Constitution.


Japan must not develop the illusion that, as a peaceful country, it should single-mindedly restrain the SDF's authority to use weapons.


In the process of studying a new antipiracy law among members of the government and ruling parties, attention has been focused on how much authority the MSDF should be granted in using arms to fight pirates in waters off Somalia. The Defense Ministry and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party want to increase such authority, while some members of New Komeito, the LDP's junior coalition partner, have expressed caution.



Dispatch 1st, change law later

As a stopgap measure until the new law is implemented, two MSDF destroyers are to be dispatched to waters off Somalia around next month under a maritime policing provision of the Self-Defense Forces Law.


However, the current law prohibits SDF personnel from using weapons against an enemy unless it is in self-defense or to avert an imminent threat. This means that MSDF members can fire warning shots, which are unlikely to harm pirates, but are strictly limited from firing at the bodies of pirate ships.


For instance, if pirates defy an order to stop their ship or ignore warning shots and start returning fire, then the MSDF can fire on the pirates. However, if pirates simply try to board a civilian ship, it will be very difficult for MSDF commanders to judge when and how weapons should be used.


Such restrictions in dealing with heavily armed pirates will not only hinder an effective crackdown on them, but also might endanger the lives of MSDF personnel.


At first, the government should avoid letting the MSDF engage in dangerous activities if it is severely restricted in its authority compared with other navies.


The MSDF's authority to use weapons should be expanded to secure effectiveness of its fight against piracy.



Work with other navies

Coordination with other countries also is important in efforts to clamp down on piracy. The envisioned law should clearly stipulate that an MSDF ship can escort a foreign vessel, which is not allowed under the current law.


Besides, it is better in terms of international coordination to dispatch several of the MSDF's P-3C patrol airplanes to waters off Somalia so that they can monitor marine areas not being covered by MSDF vessels.


The MSDF aircraft can report to nearby patrol ships of other countries if they find that pirates are about to attack a foreign vessel. Conversely, MSDF vessels may obtain information on piracy from the patrol airplanes of other nations. Close exchange of information would lead to a more effective crackdown on piracy.


Since it owns about 80 P-3Cs, the MSDF should be able to deal appropriately with such a new international mission.


In the first place, it is physically difficult for two MSDF ships alone to escort all the ships related to Japan that pass through those waters--an average of five or six a day. The dispatch of P-3Cs would complement activities of MSDF ships in seas off Somalia.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 6, 2009)

2009260127  読売新聞)


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