“I ordered to send two patrol ships to the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia on July 6, so that they will start their missions at the end of July,” Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said.
Because of limits on Japan’s military imposed by the country’s post-World War 2 pacifist constitution, its destroyers there now have no mandate to use force except to protect Japanese interests or when acting in self-defence.
The new law also widens the navy’s rules of engagement and allows it to fire at the hulls of pirate vessels that approach other ships, as a last resort.
Hamada said the new legislation takes effect on July 24, and that “the crew members have been trained to carry out the new mission”.
Japan joined the US, China and more than 20 other countries, in March, in the maritime operation against pirates who have attacked ships in the waters off the Horn of Africa, a key route leading to the Suez Canal.
In addition to the destroyers, Japan also dispatched two maritime surveillance aircraft last month and scores of military personnel to the region to beef up its anti-piracy mission.