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SECURITY > Self-Defense Forces

Japan adopts new guideline to allow SDF to protect U.S. warships

TOKYO, Dec. 22, Kyodo — The Japanese government adopted a guideline Thursday under the country’s new security legislation that will allow its Self-Defense Forces to take on a fresh mission to guard U.S. warships, hoping to enhance bilateral cooperation in monitoring North Korea among other activities.


The move marks a further expansion of the SDF’s overseas role after the Ground Self-Defense Force contingent deployed to South Sudan was earlier this month given a mission of rescuing U.N. staff and others under attack, even if the GSDF is not the direct target of the attack.


The SDF have long been restricted to using their weapons only when they themselves come under attack, but the controversial security legislation enacted last year expanded the scope of usage to defending troops of other countries when they are attacked.


The government is considering applying the legislation in relation to troops from the United States and Australia, which have long-standing cooperative security ties with Japan.


The latest guideline is expected to be applied to information-gathering activities on the North Korean ballistic missile launches, transporting and supplying goods and personnel in the event of a serious incident that would affect the peace and security of Japan and holding joint military training with other countries.


Whether the SDF would actually go on a mission will be decided by the defense minister, although the National Security Council will discuss ahead of time in certain cases, including when a country requests SDF protection for the first time.


The government will swiftly disclose if “abnormal events” occur during the mission, and will formulate a basic plan in applying the policy to the case of a serious incident affecting the country’s security.

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