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Japan unlikely to join coalition to safeguard waters in Middle East

  • July 10, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 11:59 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, July 10 (Jiji Press) — Japan is unlikely to take part in a proposed military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen under current conditions if asked to do so, officials said.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly said Tuesday the United States is engaging with a number of countries to see if such a coalition can be put together.

At a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami declined to comment on the matter.

Japan has not received any request from the United States on such a coalition, a senior Defense Ministry official said.

Japan has deployed Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers to the Gulf of Aden to protect commercial ships, based on the antipiracy law.

The law cannot be used as a basis for possible Japanese participation in the coalition because the government has yet to identify the perpetrator behind the June attack on a Japanese-operated tanker near the Strait of Hormuz.

“Recognizing an act of piracy requires the confirmation of intentions to steal money or goods, but such an intention can’t be confirmed in the June attack,” the senior Defense Ministry official said.

A participation in the form of maritime security operations based on the SDF law could be an option. But in such a case, SDF troops will not be able to protect foreign ships with no relation to Japan.

Using the 2015 national security laws could spark a strong public backlash.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said late last month that Japan has no plan to send SDF troops to the Strait of Hormuz. “There are no factors that will change this policy at the moment,” the senior ministry official said.

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