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Japan to dispatch 2 destroyers on anti-piracy mission
Updated: 2009-02-03 17:00
TOKYO -- Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) said Tuesday that it will dispatch two destroyers on an anti-piracy mission off Somalia once receiving the order from the defense minister.

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To be sent on the mission are the 4,650-ton Sazanami and 4,550-ton Samidare of the 8th Escort Division of the 4th Escort Flotilla in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, the MSDF said.

On Wednesday Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the Maritime Self-Defense Forces (MSDF) to prepare for the mission in a bid to protect Japanese and Japan-linked ships from pirates' attacks.

In line with Article 82 of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) Law, which governs policing action on the seas, the MSDF will dispatch the two destroyers, according to an outline of the operational guidelines for the MSDF released on January 27.

Under the maritime policing provision, the MSDF will protect only Japan-related vessels, including Japanese-registered ships and foreign vessels with Japanese nationals or shipments aboard.

The dispatch of the MSDF, the first overseas military deployment under the SDF law, is expected to take place in March at the earliest after training and other preparatory work is finished.