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Piracy and Japan’s Constitution Revisited

Last updated on August 12, 2013

In a previous post on “Africa: Is Black back for Japan, China and the USA?” I looked at the “renewed” interest in Africa and its resources. With the news that Japan will build a base in Djibouti to protect cargo and other ships from pirates, it seems that Japan’s interest has peaked and I bet this will turn into a great opportunity for Japan to spread the love via increased ODA to counter what China is doing in Africa.

Looking back at a previous article on Piracy and Japan’s Constitution, Craig Martin wrote in a special to the Japan Times:

A careful analysis, however, would suggest that the Article 9 prohibition on the use of force would not apply to the deployment of naval forces, or their use of weapons, to protect shipping from pirates in international waters.

Yet, it is clear that the government policy is being formulated under the shadow of Article 9. While the ships are initially being deployed under the authority of Article 82 of the Self-Defense Forces Law, the government has drafted and submitted to the Diet a permanent anti-piracy law, and it is around this bill that debate has focused.”

I am sure that many are asking if Japan’s plan to build a base in Djibouti is legal or as Craig Martin puts it:

“So the question then, is whether the deployment of the MSDF, and the possible use of armed force by the MSDF, to help prevent piracy in the Gulf of Aden, falls within the scope of this constitutional prohibition of the use of force.”

To answer that question, one has to understand the concept of “piracy” in international law (Martin).

“In short, such use of force against pirates, in international waters, cannot fall within the scope of the prohibition in Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Now, to be sure, the MSDF would have to take care that the target of their activity legitimately fell within the definition of “pirates,” and that they were in international waters. Conducting activities in the territorial waters or on the shores of Somalia, for instance, would raise entirely different issues.”

Click here for the rest of the story.

Related posts:

  1. Piracy and the Constitution (Craig Martin)
  2. Let the SDF Deploy Overseas (Zurui)
  3. Permanent JSDF Overseas Deployment Law?

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