Japan said on Friday it may send navy ships soon to help combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, an announcement that came the same day three Chinese ships were scheduled to set off for the area.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso ordered Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada to press ahead with deliberations on how the armed forces could act against the pirates, the government's top spokesman told reporters.
"He ordered the defence minister to speed up considerations so that we can act quickly," Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told reporters.
The dispatch could prove a legal and diplomatic headache for Japan, whose military activities overseas are tightly restricted by its post-World War Two pacifist constitution.
The naval dispatch would be the first by the country to the region.
Japanese Prime Minister Aso said Tokyo would consider first sending ships under an existing marine security law, adding that passing a fresh law would take time.
The current law only permits the navy to protect Japanese vessels, a restriction that could lead to criticism from other countries whose ships are patrolling the area.
NATO and the European Union are among the international bodies that have ships patrolling waters off Somalia.
Last Mod: 26 Aralık 2008, 12:31