SDF to be allowed to use arms in attacks on SDF, U.S. bases

SDF to be allowed to use arms in attacks on SDF, U.S. bases

TOKYO, Sept. 27 Kyodo

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) would be authorized to use weapons if terrorists attack SDF or U.S. military bases in Japan, according to a draft bill to revise the SDF law obtained Thursday.

The draft, drawn up by the government and the three-party ruling coalition, says SDF personnel ”can use weapons if it is rationally judged that they require (use of weapons) in accordance with the circumstances of terror (attacks).”

A revision to the SDF law is part of a seven-point package of measures announced by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in the wake the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The draft effectively relaxes restrictions on use of weapons by the SDF.

The government and the ruling parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito party and the New Conservative Party — plan to submit the bill to the extraordinary Diet session that started Thursday.

It gives the prime minister the power to order the SDF to guard important areas and to specify the duration of the deployment.

The premier can issue such orders following consultations with the heads of the Defense Agency and the National Public Safety Commission, it says.

The SDF can in principle protect areas inside SDF and U.S. military facilities, it says. SDF personnel would also be allowed to guard related areas outside the facilities or areas requiring minimum security measures.

Moreover, SDF personnel would be allowed to question people, take measures to evacuate them from facilities under guard and prevent or deter crimes.

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