Japan‚Äôs new anti-piracy law will take effect on Saturday, 17 days after it was enacted by the Diet, the nation‚Äôs parliament, the transport ministry announced this week.
The new law will allow private armed guards to board Japanese-registered oil tankers and other cargo ships in waters off Somalia and elsewhere.
Under the domestic firearms and swords control law, private armed guards currently can‚Äôt be deployed aboard Japanese-flagged vessels. But the new anti-piracy law will allow private guards armed with rifles to board Japanese-flag oil tankers and other cargo ships in piracy hot spots as a special exception to the firearms and swords control law.
Private armed guards will be allowed to fire warning shots into the air or at the water and fire at pirates in self-defense.
Shipping companies will be required to get approval from the transport minister for their security plans, which specify security companies hired by them, for each vessel.
Resource-poor Japan imports almost all of its crude oil, more than 80 percent of which comes from the Middle East. The Japanese Shipowners‚Äô Association has been strongly calling for the government to allow shipping firms to deploy private armed guards on their vessels.