Sunday’s Yomiuri and Sankei reported that Defense Minister Kono attended the Manama Dialogue international security confab in the Bahrain capital on Saturday and explained the GOJ will deploy military assets to the Middle East for a maritime security operation. He said the mission is not only for protecting Japanese commercial vessels but also for ensuing regional peace and stability. Kono expressed strong concern about the heightened tension between the U.S. and Iran.
In a follow-up development, Yomiuri wrote today that Kono visited the headquarters of Combined Task Force 151, a Manama-based multinational naval task force to deal with piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia. He met with the taskforce commander to exchange views on Japan’s ongoing contributions to anti-piracy operations.
Meanwhile, Monday’s Asahi took up remarks made to the Japanese press corps on Saturday by Commander McKenzie of U.S. Central Command, who commented on the GOJ’s plan to commit military assets to the region independent of the U.S.-orchestrated coalition. He was quoted as saying: “Japan is a friend. We welcome its deployment.”