The Japanese government decided Friday to allow Self-Defense Forces troops engaging in emergency ground transportation of Japanese nationals abroad to carry a wider range of arms than previously permitted.
The move came after the Diet, the country’s parliament, passed a bill earlier this month to allow the SDF to use vehicles as a means of transporting Japanese during emergencies abroad in addition to aircraft and ships.
Japan’s Defense Ministry early Tuesday deployed a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interceptor unit at its premises in Ichigaya, Tokyo to prepare for a possible ballistic missile launch by North Korea.
The move follows Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera’s order on Sunday to the Self-Defense Forces to be ready to shoot down North Korean missiles if they reach Japan. The Maritime SDF has sent Aegis cruisers with missile interception capabilities to the Sea of Japan.
The Air SDF’s PAC3, also planned for deployment at SDF sites in Asaka and Narashino in the Tokyo metropolitan area, are tasked with covering against any missile attacks on Japan that escape interception by Aegis ships.
Japan is opening its first overseas army base in Djibouti, a small African state strategically located at the southern end of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aden, to counter rising piracy in the region.
The 40-million-dollar base expected to be completed by early next year will strengthen international efforts to curb hijackings and vessel attacks by hordes of gunmen from the lawless Somalia.
The Djibouti base breaks new ground for Japan, which has had no standing army since World War II and cannot wage war. It however has armed forces — the Japan Self-Defence Forces — which were formed at the end of US occupation in 1952.