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Japan distancing itself from U.S. claims of Iranian involvement in tanker attacks

  • June 17, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 9:56 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, June 17 (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government is avoiding taking sides in the dispute surrounding U.S. claims of Iranian involvement in Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers, including one operated by a Japanese company, near the Strait of Hormuz.

Apparently, in order not to harm Japan’s traditional friendly ties with Iran, the government is also reluctant to take up the incident when it chairs a Group of 20 summit in the western city of Osaka on June 28-29.

The United States has accused Iran of the tanker attacks, which occurred during a visit to Iran by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was there to mediate between the two countries. Tehran has called Washington’s accusations groundless.

At a press conference on Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to answer a question about Tokyo’s view on the tanker attacks. “I refrain from answering with prejudice now,” Suga said.

A senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official described the country’s unique ties with Iran as a “diplomatic asset.”

“We can’t make any statement based on a presumption,” said the senior diplomat, adding that the U.S. government should disclose more information it has on the Hormuz incident.

Another Japanese government source referred to the Iraq war, which the United States initiated after a false intelligence analysis of Iraq pointed to the country possessing weapons of mass destruction.

“We can’t unreservedly accept U.S. claims,” the government source said.

A former cabinet member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party even suggested the possibility of a U.S. conspiracy behind the tanker attacks.

Meanwhile, some members of the Japanese government are waiting to see the results of a third-party investigation proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

However, any such investigation would likely take a long time, leaving the Japanese government to maintain an ambiguous position on the matter, observers say.

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