Tokyo - Japan is working on a plan to send about 270 seamen to the Middle East to guard ships supplying Japan under a law that allows military deployments for research and intelligence gathering, the Nikkei business daily reported. Japan maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran, and has said it would not join any U.S. coalition to protect merchant vessels in the region.
The Nikkei said the government would propose deploying one escort ship and a patrol aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defense Force on a one-year mission that could be renewed annually. It plans to finalise the plan by year-end, the Nikkei said. Global commodity trading has been rocked this year by attacks on international merchant vessels that Japan’s Western allies have blamed on Iran. Tehran denies involvement.
Tensions have heightened between Tehran and Washington since last year, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six nations and re-imposed sanctions on the country, crippling its economy.