Japan to send warship, aircraft to Middle East to protect vessels

Japan, a US ally, is launching its own operation rather than join a US-led mission to protect shipping in Gulf region.

Alsiasi_Agencies

Japan will send a warship and patrol planes to protect Japanese ships in the Middle East as the situation in the region, from which it sources nearly 90 percent of its crude oil imports, remains volatile, a document approved by the cabinet showed on Friday.

Under the plan, a helicopter-equipped destroyer and two P-3C patrol planes will be dispatched for information-gathering aimed at ensuring safe passage for Japanese vessels through the region.

If there are any emergencies, a special order would be issued by the Japanese defence minister to allow the forces to use weapons to protect ships in danger.

Friction between Iran and the United States has increased since last year, when US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions on it, crippling its economy.

In May and June, there were several attacks on international merchant vessels, including the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous, in the region, which the US blamed on Iran.

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