Japan looks to maintain SDF's expanded role

The heightened activities of Japan's Self-Defense Forces in the 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks is prompting discussion about what role it should play in the future.

The government plans to continue dispatching the SDF as it seeks to contribute to global peace and stability.

Terrorism and other issues have grown more severe around the world. The government believes the SDF's missions, including counter-piracy and disaster response, have been highly valued by the international community.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Japan sent Maritime Self-Defense Force ships to the Indian Ocean to assist US warships with refueling and other logistical operations.

National security legislation enacted in 2015 allows Japan to rescue and protect its citizens during overseas emergencies.

Some lawmakers within the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party want to make it easier to deploy the SDF abroad. They say the government failed to respond quickly to the recent chaos in Afghanistan following the Taliban's power grab.

SDF aircraft evacuated one Japanese woman and 14 Afghans from the country, but the mission ended with others left behind.

Debate will likely hinge on whether the SDF should be dispatched to areas with a worsening security environment, as well as the scope of its activities.