World, Asia - Pacific

Japan to deploy naval ships, patrol planes to Mideast

One-year survey and research mission intended to ensure safe passage for Japanese vessels, local media reports

Zehra Nur Düz   | 27.12.2019
Japan to deploy naval ships, patrol planes to Mideast

ANKARA 

Japan plans to dispatch a maritime force to the Middle East in late January to protect its ships in the region, according to local media on Friday.

Official Kyodo news agency reported that the country's cabinet approved the dispatch of Japanese navy personnel to the region "for information-gathering activities to help ensure the safety of a key oil shipping lane.”

The decision comes days after a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the latter's official visit to Tokyo.

A helicopter-carrying vessel, P-3C patrol planes and 260 personnel will be dispatched to the region as part of the mission, the report said quoting government sources.

The mission will be carried out in the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea, and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Japan, the top third economy in the world, imports about 90% of its crude oil from the Middle East.

A recent Kyodo News poll shows that 51.5% of Japanese people oppose the plan, while 33.7% support it.

The personnel will be trained before the deployment, which Tokyo claimed to be a part of its "contribution to peace" in the Middle East.

The Japan's initiative comes as tensions ratcheted up between the U.S. and Iran after two oil tankers were attacked in June in the Strait of Hormuz.

The U.S. held Iran responsible for the attacks and accused Tehran of destroying navigation devices. Both accusations were denied by Iran.

Following the tanker attack, Washington created an international military coalition to safeguard the Strait of Hormuz, however, Japan kept itself out of the coalition.

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