Japanese Destroyer Leaves for Middle East
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Yokosuka, Kanagawa Pref., Feb. 2 (Jiji Press)--A Japanese destroyer left its base in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, Sunday for the Middle East on an information-gathering mission aimed at ensuring the safe navigation of ships related to Japan in the region.
The Maritime Self-Defense Force's 4,650-ton Takanami is scheduled to arrive in the region in about three weeks to operate in areas, including the Gulf of Oman and the northern Arabian Sea.
With 208 MSDF personnel and two helicopters, the Takanami departed the Yokosuka base at around 10:40 a.m. (1:40 a.m. GMT). It comes with bulletproof glass windows and is armed with machine guns. They will be replaced by another MSDF unit after about four months of operations.
The mission focuses on research and studies permitted under the Defense Ministry establishment law. But the destroyer will take defensive action under an order from the defense minister if it is attacked or in response to contingencies.
"We're well prepared. We'll do information-gathering activities in a responsible way," said the 48-year-old commander of the mission, Capt. Yosuke Inaba. A send-off ceremony was attended by about 500 family members and others.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]