TOKYO, April 15 (UPI) -- Japanese lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow its military to protect ships of any nationality against pirates.
The Japan Times reported Wednesday that the Lower House is considering the bill, which would allow the Maritime Self-Defense Force to protect foreign ships and remove some limits on the MSDF's use of force.
Prime Minister Taro Aso called on lawmakers to approve the anti-piracy law quickly amid the increase in pirate attacks off the Somalia cost and the Gulf of Aden.
"Piracy is a life-or-death matter that threatens Japan's national interests of securing the safety of transport by sea," Aso said. "The pirates off the coast of Somalia are especially a threat to the international community, including Japan, and emergency measures need to be taken."
The Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc and the government want the bill passed before the Diet session ends in June. But the opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, wants the bill amended to require lawmakers' approval before troops could be sent on an anti-piracy mission.
"The anti-piracy measures bill lacks a provision for advance Diet approval should the MSDF be dispatched in case of an emergency -- but it is necessary from the viewpoint of civilian control," DPJ lawmaker Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi was quoted as saying. "We also think it is necessary that a dispatch plan clarifying the mission and region be reported to the Diet."