Asahi and Yomiuri wrote that during a Lower House Security Committee meeting on Thursday, Defense Minister Kono commented on Japan’s plan to send an MSDF unit to the Middle East. Yomiuri quoted Kono as saying that Japan needs to gather further information in view of the escalating tensions in the Middle East. The paper interpreted this remark to mean that he was stressing the need for Japan to dispatch an MSDF unit to the region. Kono reportedly said that the scope of MSDF operations will be discussed from now and that the GOJ has not decided on areas where the MSDF will not operate. Asahi interpreted this remark to mean that the GOJ has not ruled out MSDF operations in the Strait of Hormuz or the Persian Gulf.
In a related story, Nikkei wrote that the Ministry of Defense has set up in the SDF Joint Staff Office a task force in preparation for sending SDF assets to the Middle East. The new task force will discuss operations, equipment, and responses to unforeseen events.