The Japanese government is considering allowing foreign security contractors aboard Japanese-flagged vessels to carry firearms to combat piracy in the waters off East Africa, according to a report Monday in the Japan Times
Under the bill, drafted by the nation’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, armed guards would be permitted to fire warning shots to deter pirates. Currently, vessels registered in Japan are prohibited from carrying such armed guards.
“Ship owners will be required to disclose details on their equipment and security plans as well as the capabilities of the security staff on board before receiving government approval,” the report said. “They also will be required to submit an application for every journey, according to the ministry’s plan.”
Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off East Africa spiked between 2007 and 2011, though reported attacks diminished in 2012. Japan is one of a number of nations to deploy naval forces to protect its merchant ships from attacks. - Eric Johnson