FILE IMAGE: Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers a concern throughout a press conference at the 8th trilateral leaders’ conference between China, South Korea and Japan in Chengdu, in southwest China’s Sichuan province December 24,2019 Wang Zhao/Pool by means of REUTERS
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated his plans to deploy the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to guarantee the safety of its ships, even as tensions in the area emerge in the wake of the United States’ killing of among Iran’s leading military commanders.
At a telecasted press conference on Monday, Abe called on countries involved to make diplomatic efforts to alleviate stress and avoid further escalation.
” Tensions are rising in the Middle East and I am deeply stressed. Further escalation ought to be avoided and I contact all parties worried to exhaust all diplomatic effort to alleviate tensions,” Abe informed press reporters in Ise, central Japan.
” We prepare to dispatch Self-Defense Forces to this region to strengthen details gathering and protect the safe passage of Japan-related ships,” Abe said, repeating a strategy revealed last month ahead of the current flare-up in tensions.
The United States last week killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport, an attack that took long-running hostilities in between Washington and Tehran into uncharted area and raised the specter of broader conflict in the Middle East.
The Japanese government revealed late last month it will send out a warship and patrol airplanes to the Middle East, from which it sources nearly 90%of its petroleum imports.
Japan, a U.S. ally that has actually kept friendly ties with Iran, has actually decided to launch its own operation rather than join a U.S.-led objective to secure shipping in the region.
A Japanese defense ministry official has said the federal government intends to start the operation of the patrol aircrafts at some point in January, while the destroyer will likely start activities in the region in February.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Chang-Ran Kim; Modifying by Michael Perry