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Maritime Security: Japan Self Defence Force in Somalia Coast

Key words: Japan, JSDF, MSDF, maritime security, anti-piracy, Somalia, peace constitution, Article 9  

On 14 March 2009, the Japanese government finally exercised its authority under the ‘Maritime Security Operation’ to dispatch the Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) to the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. Compared to other countries, its response came too late. But, as compared to its earlier examples, it went smoothly. There are three remarkable aspects of this decision. First, the Japanese government used the law of ‘Maritime Security Operation’ which has already existed as an emergency measure. Second, the Rule of Engagement (ROE) was loosened. Third, the new law against acts of piracy became a permanent law.

This detachment could be empowered to expand MSDF activities. Japan is one of the security partners of India, since the ‘Indo-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation’ was announced on 22 October 2008. But so far, the restraints of MSDF operation overseas fetter practical cooperation with India, including in anti-piracy activities. The recent Japanese deployment and a new permanent law however, could facilitate security cooperation with India in the future. This paper will provide a detailed analysis of these issues and the process through which the Japanese leadership came to a decision to deploy the MSDF.


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