NHK reported on its exclusive interview with visiting Iranian Vice Foreign Minister Aragchi on Tuesday night in which he reportedly voiced opposition to Japan’s plan to deploy assets to the Middle East on a maritime security mission. He was quoted as saying: “We are still waiting for a final decision by the Japanese government, but I don’t think any foreign military can contribute to stability, security, or peace in the region.” He reportedly conveyed this position to Prime Minister Abe when he called on him earlier in the day. Aragchi reportedly blamed the Trump administration for escalating tensions by reinstating the “strongest” sanctions on Tehran and pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement. On his country’s accelerated moves to enrich uranium in violation of the nuclear deal, he stressed his government is entitled to take “every countermeasure” against U.S. sanctions. “If we cannot benefit from the nuclear accord, we will move to the next phase without fail,” he warned.
In a follow-up, NHK reported that Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press this morning that during his meeting with Aragchi yesterday, PM Abe explained Japan’s plan to dispatch an SDF unit to the Middle East for “collecting intelligence.” The government spokesman suggested the Iranian diplomat did not respond negatively, as claimed by the media. Suga refused to comment on whether Aragchi said President Rouhani desired to visit Japan later this month during yesterday’s session with Abe.