Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Kōmeitō Comes On Board...

...be afwaid, you dastahdwy paiwats! Be vewy, vewy afwaid!

According to reports, a Liberal Democratic Party and New Kōmeitō project team (PT) has come up with a compromise bill authorizing the dispatch of Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces destroyers to waters of the Gulf of Aden and off the northwest coast of Somalia.

Map of the possible area of operations.
Courtesy: Yomiuri Online.

Initial reports guess that the Minister of Defense will authorize the dispatch of two destroyers to participate in anti-piracy patrols and maritime operations.

Of course, with the ostensibly pacifist New Kōmeitō in the driver seat, the satanic majesty is in the details.

The itsy, bitsy details.

The stupid stuff.

According to the legislation, the MSDF vessels will only involve themselves in the protection of

1) ships of Japanese registry
2) ships carrying Japanese nationals, or
3) ships of foreign registry carrying Japanese cargo (Nihon no kamotsu o noseta gaikokusekisen)

It looks as though that last category will be authorizing MSDF participation in pretty much any anti-piracy operation undertaken in the area, New Kōmeitō fretting about the potential for violent encounters notwithstanding. Whenever an incident seems imminent or has taken place in the area of operations, there will definitely be a ship with "Japan cargo" on it "in need of protection."

Of course, this whole business has nothing to do with protecting either 1) or 2) or 3).

It is about

A) Embarrassing the Democratic Party of Japan, which has steadfastly opposed the dispatch of MSDF ships to the Indian Ocean as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The government and the ruling coalition are daring the DPJ to stand with its allies the Socialists and the Communists in voting down the new legislation in the House of Councillors, allowing the ruling coalition to save the dispatch through an override vote in the House of Representatives, and

B) Keeping up with the Lis. With the Chinese already on station and the South Koreans getting ready to set sail, the Maritime Self Defense Forces are afraid of becoming the laughingstocks of East Asia.

But you know, by sending men into danger as a part of a double-barreled game of oneupsmanship, the nobility of the ruling coalition's anti-piracy project seems somehow...diminished.


T. Greer said...

Perhaps. But then again, when is the last time the SDF actually had to do.. well, anything? It seems to me that if you wish to have a competent Self-Defense Force, letting them practice self defense is the best way to do it.

~T. Greer

Anonymous said...

Hey now, T. Greer, pirates with RPGs in a speedboat are pretty dangerous to a 4000-7000 ton naval vessel. They could do a serious number on the paint job, and the crew might get so excited at the prospect of actually doing something they'd faint and fall overboard. Gotta be careful.