The Japanese Cabinet decided on Friday to send about 260 members of the Self-Defense Force, as well as one destroyer and two P3C patrol planes to the Middle Eastern seas. The objective is to collect intelligence, but it may be considered as a violation of the constitution in the case that the Self-Defense Force engaged in armed conflicts.
The decision by the Japanese government came in five months after Washington requested Tokyo to join a combined fleet to guard the Strait of Hormuz in July. Japan plans to independently collect intelligence, rather than joining the fleet, in consideration of Iran, which has maintained a friendly relationship with Japan. The scope of Japan’s activities will be limited to international waters in three areas – the Sea of Oman, northern Arabian Sea, and Bab al-Mandab Strait near Yemen – and the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf are excluded.
The Takanami destroyer will be deployed in early February next year while the two P3C patrol planes deployed to a Somalian strait will be utilized. As an instrument to put a brake on the Self-Defense Force’s activities, the National Diet will receive annual reports and the Cabinet will determine the extension of the mission.