GULF OF OMAN Japan to send warship, aircraft to Middle East to protect vessels


Japan’s government announced on Friday that it will send a warship and patrol planes to protect Japanese ships in the Middle East as the situation in the region, from which it sources nearly 90% of its crude oil imports, remains volatile.

Under the plan approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet on Friday, a helicopter-equipped destroyer and two P-3C patrol planes will be dispatched for information-gathering aimed at ensuring safe passage for Japanese vessels through the region.

Japan, a U.S. ally that has maintained friendly ties with Iran, has opted to launch its own operation rather than join a U.S.-led mission to protect shipping in the region. 

The planned operation is set to cover high seas in the Gulf of Oman, in the northern Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but not the Strait of Hormuz. 

The Japanese government aims to start the operation of the patrol planes next month, while the destroyer will likely begin activities in the region in February, a defence ministry official said.