Japan Defense Chief Orders MSDF Mission in Middle East

Society Politics

Tokyo, Jan. 10 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono ordered the Maritime Self-Defense Force on Friday to dispatch a destroyer and two P-3C patrol planes to the Middle East on a mission aimed at ensuring sea lane safety in the region.

The government sees an increasing need for the mission although tensions in the Middle East have heightened since the killing of a top Iranian commander by the United States last week and Tehran's retaliatory missile attacks on Iraqi bases being used by the U.S. military this week, officials said.

Members of the MSDF, as well as the destroyer and the patrol aircraft, will be dispatched based on the Defense Ministry establishment law's Article 4, which calls for conducting necessary research and studies. They will carry out surveillance activities in a bid to secure safe navigation by ships related to Japan.

MSDF members for the P-3C operations will leave Japan on Saturday. They will also engage in an ongoing antipiracy mission in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. The Takanami destroyer will depart in early February and start its operations late that month.

The Middle East mission will cover the high seas in the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden. The Strait of Hormuz, including Iranian waters, will be excluded from the operation areas. The mission is due to last one year and can be extended if necessary.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press