Press TV – Japanese government sources say Tokyo is not willing to join a US-led naval mission purportedly aimed at protecting shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf, but is mulling over sending ships off Yemen.
The sources told Kyodo news agency that the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reluctant to participate in the US-led coalition of escorting vessels through the Strait of Hormuz to counter the alleged “Iran threat” amid concerns about possible damage to Tokyo-Tehran friendly ties.
Earlier this week, US Pentagon chief Mark Esper urged Japan to “strongly consider” getting “involved in this type of monitoring of the strait.”
As a compromise, the sources said, Japan is considering sending Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers and P-3C Orion surveillance planes to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait between war-torn Yemen and the Horn of Africa.
“We can’t just do nothing,” a senior Abe administration official said.
The Japanese ships would not be part of the US-proposed mission, though the area of their operations would overlap.
The Japanese government sources noted that Abe hopes to discuss the issue with US President Donald Trump during a meeting on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France later this month.
The United States has been trying to persuade its allies into an international coalition with the declared aim of providing “security” for merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz — though which about a fifth of all oil consumed globally pass —and other strategic Middle Eastern shipping lanes.
Washington claims Tehran has played a role in two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to support the accusations, which Iran has categorically rejected.
Germany and France have so far rebuffed requests from the Trump administration to join the military coalition in the Persian Gulf.
US pressures Germany to join coalition
A spokesman for the US embassy in Berlin confirmed that Ambassador Richard Grenell and other top diplomats have pressured Germany to join the mission to no avail.
“We’ve formally asked Germany to join France and the UK to help secure the Straits of Hormuz,” a senior embassy official told The Washington Free Beacon.
“Members of the German government have been clear that freedom of navigation should be protected.”
Recently, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed that his country would not join the US-led mission, and warned that it was rather difficult to make progress on the initiative.
Many German politicians have reportedly expressed grave reservations about a US-orchestrated naval mission in the Persian Gulf and fear that any such move could increase the risk of a military aggression on Iran.
Iran Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami warned this week that a US-led naval coalition “will only increase regional insecurity.”
Tehran says, over the course of history, Iran has been and will continue to be the most principal preserver of security and shipping freedom in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Sea of Oman.