Japan lower house OKs piracy law

Japan's lower house has approved an anti-piracy bill that would allow Japanese navy ships to escort foreign vessels during missions off the Somali coast. The approval by the lower house Thursday makes certain enactment of legislation that would relax restrictions, allow the use of arms by personnel on navy ships and open the way for them to escort foreign vessels. Japan has sent two destroyers to the Somali coast to join the international anti-piracy mission, the first policing action overseas for Japan's military, whose mission has been restricted primarily to non-combative, humanitarian activities.