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Trump wants Japan to send warships to the Gulf to counter Iranian threat'

Abe said he will attempt to reduce tensions between Iran and the US [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 July, 2019

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The US is expected to request that Japan send forces to secure shipping lanes near Iran but Prime Minister Abe wants to try to reduce US-Iran tensions first.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that Japan “wants to make every effort” to reduce tension between the United States and Iran, as reports suggest the US is expected to request that the Japanese navy, known as the Maritime Self-Defence Forces, be sent to the Middle East to guard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen. 

Japanese media reported that the US plans to boost surveillance of vital oil shipping lanes in the Middle East off Iran and Yemen and that this will be on the agenda during US national security adviser John Bolton’s visit to Japan.

The US blames Iran and its allies for attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Abe said that Japan wishes to play its “unique role” in reducing tensions between the US and Iran before deciding whether to participate in the US-led surveillance operation.

"We have a long tradition of friendship with Iran and I've met with its president any number of times, as well as other leaders," Abe told a news conference after his ruling coalition's victory in a Sunday election for the Japanese parliament's upper house.

While Abe was speaking, Bolton was meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, but the two did not make any statements to the media before their talks. Bolton also met with top Japanese national security adviser Shotaro Yachi.

During his news conference, Abe called for a debate on revising Japan’s post-World War II pacifist constitution, which prohibits Japan from engaging in armed conflict. Japan’s armed forces are officially only allowed to engage in “self-defence” actions.

Abe’s new majority in the upper house of parliament falls short of the two-thirds necessary to amend the constitution.

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