TOKYO: Japan sent a naval destroyer to the Middle East in a rare move on Sunday to ensure the safety of its ships in the wake of conflicts between Iran and the US.
For an information-collection mission in the Gulf of Oman, northern parts of the Arabian Sea, and parts of the Gulf of Aden, the vessel left the Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo. Japan previously chose not to take part in the US-led Operation sentinel to protect the region’s shipping routes.
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“Government’s important responsibility is to ensure the safety of vessels relevant to Japan,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the crew members of the 4,650-ton Takanami vessel as they were ready to leave port
Energy-poor Japan has generally maintained strong relations with countries in the Middle East, including Iran, as the third-largest economy in the world depends heavily on resource-rich energy.
Last year, Japan’s Prime minister had held a series of meetings with representatives of the Middle East, including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, in an effort to relieve the rising animosity between Washington and Tehran.
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The naval destroyer would meet two Japanese patrol aircraft that served as part of the same task in the area.
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