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Piracy latest: Japan to join anti-piracy fight in Somalia

Tokyo: Japan's defense minister yesterday ordered the dispatch of ships to fight pirates off the shores of Somalia, joining countries ranging from the United States to Iran to China in the battle against the outlaws, writes AP.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada did not say how many Japanese ships would be sent or when, and said his dispatch order was an interim measure until parliament passes a formal law outlining the ships' activities in their mission against piracy.

"The pirates' activities off the Somali coast are a major threat not only to Japan but also to international society and it is a problem that we must deal with urgently," Hamada said. He ordered the government to study the size of troops needed and report back to him.

Japan made the decision in line with a U.N. Security Council decision in early December extended for another year its authorization for countries to enter Somalia's territorial waters, with advance notice, and use "all necessary means" to stop acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. No Japanese vessels have been hijacked at time of press, but three of the country's vessels had been successfully defended from attacks with no injuries incurred. [29/01/09]

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