Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly repeated his plans to deploy the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to ensure the safety of its ships in the wake of the US killing of one of Iran's top military commanders, Qassem Soleimani. While speaking at a news conference, Abe also called on nations involved to make diplomatic efforts to ease tensions and avoid further escalation. He further also told all the nations to 'exhaust all diplomatic effort' to ease the tensions.
At a televised news conference Abe said, “Tensions are rising in the Middle East and I am deeply worried. Further escalation should be avoided and I call on all parties concerned to exhaust all diplomatic effort to ease tensions”. He further added, “We plan to dispatch Self-Defense Forces to this region to strengthen information gathering and secure the safe passage of Japan-related ships”.
General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was killed by US air raid at Baghdad's international airport on January 3, along with six others. The White House and the Pentagon confirmed the death of Iran's powerful military head by saying that the attack was directed by US President Donald Trump. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani in a tweet said that 'Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime'. In another statement, Rouhani also said that “there is no doubt that the great nation of Iran and the other free nations of the region will take revenge for this gruesome crime from criminal America”.
Japan, a US ally has maintained friendly ties with Iran and now has opted to launch its own operations rather than join a US-led mission to protect shipping in the region. Last month, the Japanese government reportedly said that Tokyo will send a military vessel along with two petrol planes to protect waterways in the Middle-East. This move from Japan came after several attacks in the Gulf included an attack on Japanese tanker and oil installations by Saudi Arabia. The US, the western countries and the kingdom have placed the blame of attacks on Iran which denies its involvement.
Japan has planned to deploy a destroyer to the region for intelligence activities along with two P3C patrol aircraft. The Chief secretary Yoshihide Suga told the reporters that this move by the nation is its 'own measure' towards peace and stability in the Middle East along with ensuring the safety of Japanese vessels. As per reports, nearly 90 per cent of crude oil in Toyo is imported from the same region.