Japan's antipiracy law authorizes the use of weapons
According to Article 9 of Japan's Constitution, Japan is a pacifist nation, not allowed to have an army and only use force in case of self-defense. It's new antipiracy law, however, severely challenges the pacifist nature of Japan's constitution.
Japan's lower house just passed a bill - it will take effect in late July - which allows Japan's 'self-defense forces' (SDF) to open fire on pirates operating off the coast of Somalia not only if a Japanese vessel is under attack but also if the vessel is sailing under another country's flag.
"Piracy is a threat not only to Japan, but to the international community and a challenge Japan should proactively deal with," he said.
"Japan can take action more effectively against piracy, in co-operation with other countries," Taro Aso, Japan's prime minister, said in a statement.
Currently, Japan has two destroyers and two maritime surveillance aircraft deployed to the Gulf of Aden. Unter earlier legislation the destroyers had no mandate to open fire, not even for the protection of Japanese vessels. They were only allowed to give warning shots.
Opposing parliament members said the move could erode the nation's pacifist constitution.