TOKYO, NETRALNEWS.COM - Japan will not join the US-led security mission that wants to provide protection for merchant shipping vessels crossing major waters in the Middle East.
However, Japan will consider deploying its own naval forces, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Tuesday (3/9/2019).
Although the US is Japan's most important ally, Tokyo continues to foster economic relations with Iran. In addition, Japanese companies have become major buyers of Iranian oil, until finally US sanctions forced them to look for other suppliers.
Citing an unnamed source from the government, Yomiuri said Japan was considering plans to send its own Maritime Self Defense Forces (SDF).
The defense force will be deployed to carry out mission to gather information in the areas around the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab shipping lane between Yemen, Djibouti and Eritrea.
Japan will also consider including the Strait of Hormuz as part of SDF activities if Iran agrees, the Yomiuri said.
When asked about the newspaper's report, Japanese Cabinet Secretary Minister Yoshihide Suga refused to mention specific measures that the government is considering to ensure the safety of Japanese ships.
"Regarding what measures are effective in ensuring the safe shipping of Japanese ships in the Middle East, we want to look at them from various aspects, including the matter of stable crude oil supply and Japan's relations with the United States and Iran," Suga said at a periodic press conference. as reported by Reuters and quoted by Antara.
"While we examine this issue, we want to maintain the principle of carrying out our diplomatic efforts in reducing tensions and stabilizing the situation in the Middle East."
Iran has criticized US efforts to form the coalition. Tehran says countries in the region can safeguard their waterways and take steps towards signing a nonaggression agreement.
The Japanese government will make a final decision, including whether the plan is feasible, after the UN General Assembly session in late September, the Yomiuri reported.
Suga said arrangements were under way so that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.
Global commodity trade in recent months has experienced a shock related to the detention of a British tanker and a series of attacks on international merchant ships, which the US and Britain accuse of being carried out by Iran.
Tehran has denied the allegations.
In August, Britain became the first US ally to announce joining the coalition, despite the majority of European countries expressing reluctance to take part in the mission for fear that tensions in the region would worsen.