- Story by Jet Setting Magazine Correspondent Adele Wilson
TOKYO, MAY 1, 2017; New security laws put to test as Japan’s largest naval vesselembarks on protection mission near Shikoku. .With tensions high on the Korean Peninsula, the Maritime Self-DefenseForce on Monday began its first operation to safeguard U.S. military vesselssince the enactment of two new security laws last year permitted suchactions, sources familiar with the matter said,.The mission, ordered by Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, is apparentlyaimed at demonstrating the Japan-U.S. security alliance and deterring NorthKorea from further nuclear and missile tests.The MSDF helicopter carrier Izumo left Yokosuka naval base in KanagawaPrefecture in the morning and linked up with a U.S. Navy supply ship on theBoso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture.(note) The Bōsō Peninsula is a peninsula that encompasses the entirety of Chiba Prefecture on Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It forms the eastern edge of Tokyo Bay, separating it from the Pacific Ocean..The Izumo, Japan’s largest postwar naval vessel, is expected to sail for twodays in the Pacific toward waters in the Shikoku region, governmentsources said.The supply ship escorted by the 19,500-ton Izumo is likely to refuel otherU.S. vessels deployed in waters near Japan in anticipation of potentialmissile tests by North Korea, as well as ships sailing with the aircraftcarrier USS Carl Vinson, stationed near the Korean Peninsula.The Carl Vinson and MSDF vessels entered the Sea of Japan on Saturdayfor exercises. Although the pacifist nature of the Constitution puts a limit on Self-DefenseForce activities, the security laws loosened those constraints by allowingSDF troops to guard vessels and weapons belonging to U.S. forces when theUnited States is engaged in activities beneficial to the defense of Japan.The protection mission can be conducted in certain situations, includingwhen the two are engaged in joint exercises or performing monitoring anddata-gathering activities related to the North’s missile launches.The MSDF personnel are allowed to use weapons to a certain extent tocarry out the mission. But due to constitutional constraints, they must stayaway from combat zones involving allied countries.As Japan cannot constitutionally settle international disputes via “use offorce,” the government restricts the area of SDF activities to ensure theywill not be viewed as an “integral part” of military operations conductedby other countries.
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