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Why Japan joins anti-piracy mission off Somalia

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The Gulf of Aden is a serious sail from the islands of Japan.

But Japan has two very good reasons to join the effort to rein in Somali pirates: It imports most of its oil from the Middle East and its economy is heavily dependent on exports.

And its decision to join the growing anti-piracy fleet off the lawless coast offers another benefit: some helpful experience in handling long-range naval deployments.

After lengthy debate – Japan is constrained by a Constitution that limits the military to a defensive posture – Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered his country’s Navy today to prep for safeguarding one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

The spike in Somali piracy last fall grabbed the attention of everyone from the US to India, China, Russia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Denmark – all of whom now troll the waters in the region. Survival in a state riven by warlords may have driven the explosion of Somali attacks, as the Monitor noted in November.

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