Japan to deploy destroyer to Middle East to protect vessels as tensions with Iran escalate

Japan to deploy destroyer to Middle East to protect vessels as tensions with Iran escalate

Japan will send a warship and patrol planes to protect Japanese ships in the Middle East as tensions with Iran escalate, a document approved by the cabinet showed on Friday.

Under the plan, 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 Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, near Iran’s coastline.

If there are any emergencies, a special order would be issued by the Japanese defense minister to allow the forces to use weapons to protect ships in danger.

“Peace and stability in the Middle East is extremely important for the peace and prosperity of the international community including Japan,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.

“Also, it is very important to make sure Japan-related ships can sail safely in the Middle East, the world’s major source of energy.”

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A total of 206 personnel from Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force will accompany the year-long mission, and the deployment could begin as early as the end of January.

Iran recently started enriching uranium beyond a limit established in a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, a deal from which Trump withdrew. Trump has since intensified economic sanctions on Tehran, and tensions have escalated.