- Title: Japan to send warship, aircraft to Middle East to protect vessels
- Date: 27th December 2019
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF P-3C PATROL PLANE FLYING OVERHEAD CHIBA, JAPAN (FILE - 2014) (REUTERS) P-3C PATROL PLANE FLYING OVERHEAD
- Embargoed: 10th January 2020 05:10
- Keywords: Iran Japan Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono Middle East P-3C patrol planes destroyer Takanami
- Location: TOKYO, CHIBA, JAPAN / UNIDENTIFIED LOCATIONS
- City: TOKYO, CHIBA, JAPAN / UNIDENTIFIED LOCATIONS
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Defence,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA002BBR1W7B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Japan's government announced on Friday (December 27) that it 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% of its crude oil imports, remains volatile.
Under the plan approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet on Friday, 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.
At a news conference following the cabinet meeting, Defence Minister Taro Kono emphasised the purpose of the decision was to "ensure the peace and stability in the Middle East region along with the safety of vessels related to Japan."
Japan, a U.S. ally that has maintained friendly ties with Iran, has opted to launch its own operation rather than join a U.S.-led mission to protect shipping in the region. Abe last week briefed visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tokyo's plan to send naval forces to the Gulf.
The planned operation is set to cover high seas in the Gulf of Oman, the northern Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but not the Strait of Hormuz. The Japanese government aims to start the operation of the patrol planes next month, while the destroyer will likely begin activities in the region in February, a defence ministry official said.
(Production: Hideto Sakai, Akira Tomoshige)
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