Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at a news conference on January 8 expressed opposition to the move to establish a new law to send a Self-Defense Force unit to waters off Somalia ostensibly to take part in anti-piracy operations to protect Japanese ships.
The government has never attempted to dispatch a military vessel overseas for policing activity under the Self-Defense Forces Law.
Shii said, "Piracy is a criminal act that should be solved through police activity. It is wrong to call for Japanese warships to be deployed abroad."
Referring to the fact that the government and ruling parties are considering allowing the SDF to use weapons in the waters off Somalia, Shii warned that such a deployment is in violation of the Constitution.
The government and ruling party coalition are considering invoking Article 82 of the Self-Defense Forces Law, which requires sea patrol mission to the SDF. Shii said, "Maritime patrol in areas far away from Japan cannot be recognized as a SDF task."
"What Japan should do first is to have the Japan Coast Guard provide technological and financial support for the police activities jointly held by neighboring nations," said Shii.
Pointing out that the 20-year-long civil war in Somalia is the main reason for local fishermen to turn to piracy, he stressed, "For Japan, based on its constitutional principles, it is particularly important to deal with the root cause. It should make serious efforts within an international framework to bring the civil war to end and support the people's means to livelihood."
- Akahata January 9, 2009