Tokyo: For the first time, Japan may allow foreign security contractors aboard Japanese flag-flying vessels to carry weapons to fend off pirates.
The Japanese government will submit an anti-piracy bill during the ongoing Parliamentary session to allow security contractors to carry weapons onboard.
This decision comes after 237 cases of piracy were reported in 2011 in waters around Somalia, marking a five-fold increase from 2007, sources close to the issue said.
It will be the first domestic legislation to approve arming of private citizens if the bill, to be submitted by the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, is approved by the Japanese parliament `Diet`.
Japan-registered vessels are currently prohibited from carrying armed guards under the firearm control law.
Under the bill, warning shots to hold back pirates from a vessel will be approved, while firing aimed at persons will be prohibited except in self-defense, according to the sources.
The planned legislation will be applied to vessels sailing in piracy-prone waters, such as those off Somalia and the Arabian Sea.