TOKYO, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Japan decided Friday to extend the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF)'s anti-piracy mission off Somalia, which was due to end on July 23, by one year.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) opposed the anti- piracy law when it was still an opposition party, but the DPJ changed its stance after winning power in September, on the grounds that the mission is an international contribution.
The law has enabled the MSDF to provide protection to foreign- flagged commercial vessels unrelated to Japan -- an act that had not been permitted under the maritime police action provision of the Self-Defense Forces Law.
Under the anti-piracy law, MSDF vessels can open fire on pirate boats that, despite warning shots, close in on commercial ships, though they still cannot harm pirates except in limited circumstances such as self-defense.
Japanese government also decided to extend the term of dispatch of six Ground Self-Defense Force officers taking part in a UN mission in Nepal to support the peace process, by four months until the end of November, Kyodo News reported.
Japan has deployed the GSDF personnel team in Nepal since March 2007. The mission has been extended six times, including the latest extension.