Japan orders navy to engage pirates despite constitutional risk

[JURIST] Japanese defense minister Yasukazu Hamada [official profile] on Wednesday ordered [press release] the country's Maritime Self-Defense Force [official website] to prepare to travel to the waters surrounding Somalia to combat piracy in the region, despite concerns that combat could be prohibited by the country's constitution. Hamada has said the plan is designed to protect the country's commercial interests, but opposition lawmakers are concerned the move violates the Renunciation of War [text] chapter of the the country's 1946 constitution. The scope of the forces' authorization to engage the pirates, especially if they are found attacking a non-Japanese ships, remains unclear [Daily Yomiuri report] given other limiting articles of the Self-Defense Forces Law [materials] governing the mission.

In December, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC) [official website] called for greater judicial cooperation in combating piracy [JURIST report] off the Horn of Africa. Given the difficulty of prosecuting suspects in their home countries—Somalia is ranked among the world's most corrupt [JURIST report]—the UNODC has suggested that countries in the region with more stable governments, like Djibouti, Kenya and Tanzania, conduct the trials. The UN Security Council's unanimous approval of Resolution 1838 [text, PDF; press release] allowed cooperating states to enter territorial waters and use whatever means they deemed necessary to suppress piracy.

 

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