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Rules on Japan military arms use may be eased

By Staff
Google Oneindia News

Tokyo, Jan 14: Rules on the use of arms by Japanese troopstaking part in peacekeeping operations overseas may be eased to allowthem to use weapons even when their lives are not at risk, the YomiuriShimbun daily said today.

Such a decision would mark a change in Japan's interpretation ofits constitution, particularly of Article Nine, in which it abandonedthe right to wage war or maintain an army. But the article has beeninterpreted to allow forces for self-defence.

Six decades after its World War Two surrender, Tokyo hopes finallyto emerge from the shadow of defeat and play a bigger role in globalsecurity affairs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to revise the constitution.

In 2005 the ruling party released a draft charter that would formally recognise Japan's right to maintain armed forces.

According to the Yomiuri, the rule changes would allowSelf-Defence Force personnel to do such things as protect UnitedNations facilities and prevent captured people fleeing.

The changes would make it easier for Japanese forces to take partin peacekeeping operations, such as ceasefire monitoring, where theymight have to use force to carry out their duties even if their liveswere not in danger, the daily said.

Arms use would still be limited to situations where the targetswere not regular, state-backed forces. This would most likely belimited to criminal gangs, although guerrilla organisations might alsobe included.

Defence Ministry officials were not available for comment.

Last Tuesday, in a move signalling a bolder security stance, Japanraised its Defence Agency to full-fledged ministry status. A law passedlast month also makes overseas missions a key role for Japan's military.


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