Japanese Partol Planes Leave for Middle East
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Naha, Okinawa Pref., Jan. 11 (Jiji Press)--Two P-3C patrol planes of the Maritime Self-Defense Force departed the MSDF Naha base in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, on Saturday for an information-gathering mission in the Middle East.
The mission was approved at a cabinet meeting late last month before tensions in the region shot up following the U.S. assassination of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.
While the opposition camp was demanding the government cancel the MSDF deployment plan, Defense Minister Taro Kono on Friday ordered the Middle East mission.
"Peace and stability in the Middle East is essential for peace and stability in the world," Kono told the planes' crew members before their departure. "I want you to work hard with courage and pride."
The air surveillance unit has about 60 MSDF members. It will be replaced in about three months. It will start the mission Jan. 20 after arriving at a base in Djibouti and having drills.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]