Japan is considering deploying Self-Defense Forces (Japanese Navy) vessels and planes to the Arabian Gulf to protect shipping interests in the Strait of Hormuz reports Kyodo News.
While Japan won’t join a U.S.-led coalition to guard shipping traveling through the Strait of Hormuz amid tensions involving Iran, it is considering launching its own mission.
"Japan will make its own efforts," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference, naming the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea and the eastern part of the Bab el-Mandeb strait as potential locations for the deployment.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed ministers at a National Security Council meeting to study the possibility of the SDF dispatch, according to Suga.
Abe will make the final decision on whether to send the forces after taking into account the latest situation in the Middle East, according to government and ruling party sources. This is likely to be toward the end of this year.
Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters that the Strait of Hormuz itself is not at this moment among the possible locations.
Suga emphasized that the government remains committed to diplomatic efforts to ease tensions in the region, adding the current situation does not immediately require the protection of Japanese vessels by the SDF.
The creation of the U.S.-led coalition follows attacks on two oil tankers, one operated by a Japanese shipping firm, near the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf in June.
Australia, Bahrain, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have so far agreed to join the coalition.The Strait of Hormuz is a key oil export route and safe passage for shipping in the area is vital for Japan, which relies on the Middle East for 90 percent of its crude oil.