Abe to deploy Japanese forces to Middle East
Top Stories | Jan 23, 2020:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, pictured, repeated his plans to deploy the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to ensure the safety of its ships, in the wake of the United States’ killing of one of Iran’s top military commanders.
At a televised news conference in early January 2020, Abe called on nations involved to make diplomatic efforts to ease tensions and avoid further escalation.
“Tensions are rising in the Middle East, and I am deeply worried. Further escalation should be avoided, and I call on all parties concerned to exhaust all diplomatic effort to ease tensions,” Abe told reporters in Ise, central Japan.
“We plan to dispatch Self-Defense Forces to this region to strengthen information gathering and secure the safe passage of Japan-related ships,” Abe said, reiterating a plan unveiled in December 2019 ahead of the latest flare-up in tensions.
The Japanese government announced in late December 2019 that it will send a warship and patrol planes to the Middle East, from which it sources nearly 90% of its crude oil imports.
A Japanese Defense Ministry official has said the government aims to start the operation of the patrol planes sometime in January, while the destroyer will likely begin activities in the region in February.