All networks reported at noon that the Abe Cabinet endorsed this morning a plan to send a Maritime Self-Defense Force ship and aircraft to the Middle East in an effort to enhance Japan’s intelligence gathering capabilities to ensure the safety of Japan-related ships in the Middle East. Defense Minister Kono reportedly ordered senior SDF officials to prepare for the deployment. NHK said the GOJ will deploy a destroyer and two P-3C aircraft that have been engaged in an anti-piracy mission off Somalia. According to the network, the ship and planes are likely to operate in the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea, and waters of countries surrounding the Gulf of Aden. There are reportedly no plans to send SDF assets to the Strait of Hormuz or the Persian Gulf. The period of deployment will be one year. The deployment involves about 260 SDF personnel on the ship and in the aircraft. The P-3C aircraft will commence operations as early as next month and the destroyer will depart Japan in early February to begin operations in mid-February.