Japan's prime minister orders probe into anti-piracy mission
Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso ordered a probe into the possibility of having the Japanese navy join the international fight against piracy off the Somalia coast, news reports said.
Aso asked Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada to look into having Japan's Self-Defence Forces join the anti-piracy mission, the Jiji Press news agency said.
A government spokesman said Thursday the government considered diverting a destroyer to the Horn of Africa to help preventing pirate attacks against Japanese ships, but said the government had to investigate the situation first, dpa reported.
Japanese media reports said the government could order a mission as soon as February. According to current legislation, a policing mission has to be limited to the protection of ships registered in Japan or Japanese citizens.
However, in view of the rising piracy treat in the waters off Somalia, the government is believed to prepare an amendment allowing Japan's Self-Defence Forces to also aid other ships threatened by pirates.