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Updated on: Friday, December 27, 2019, 11:15 PM IST

Japan OKs divisive plan to send naval troops to Mideast

Representational Pic |

Representational Pic |

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Tokyo: Japan on Friday approved a contentious plan to send its naval troops to the Middle East to ensure the safety of Japanese ships transporting oil to the energy-poor country that heavily depends on imports from the region.

The Cabinet's decision reflects tensions that have escalated between Iran and the U.S. since President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal.

"Taking into consideration the escalating tension in the Middle East, it is necessary to strengthen our information gathering effort," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide suga told a news conference.

Citing Japan's heavy dependence on oil imports from the region, Suga added that "it is extremely important to secure the safe navigation of Japan-affiliated ships." Despite being a U.S. ally, Japan's troop dispatch is not part of a US-led coalition protecting Middle East waterways, apparently an attempt to maintain neutrality in a show of consideration to Iran.

Under the plan, Japan will send about 260 Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel with a destroyer and a pair of P-3C reconnaissance aircraft, mainly for intelligence-gathering in the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

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Published on: Friday, December 27, 2019, 11:15 PM IST
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