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Iran Press TV

Tokyo not considering sending military for US-proposed maritime coalition: Suga

Iran Press TV

Tue Jul 23, 2019 09:18AM

Japan says it is not weighing sending military forces for a US-proposed maritime coalition in a purported mission of protecting maritime shipping lanes in the Middle East.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday that there was no change in the country's stance previously stated by Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

It was "as Minister Iwaya said," noted the Japanese top government spokesman.

The Japanese defense minister said last week that he had "no plan" to send the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to join the military coalition envisioned by the US.

Sources said the United States was struggling to win its allies support for the initiative to heighten surveillance of the vital Middle East oil shipping lanes.

Because of fears of confrontation with Iran, any involvement by Washington's allies is likely be limited to naval personnel and equipment already in place - near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and the Bab al-Mandab strait in the Red Sea, two Persian Gulf sources and a British security source said, Reuters reported.

Tensions began after several oil tankers, including one operated by a Japanese shipping firm, were suspiciously targeted near the Persian Gulf last month.

Washington and its staunch regional ally Saudi Arabia quickly blaming Iran for the suspicious attacks. However, Iran has denied all the charges, warning neighbors against false flags by "foreign players."

The Japanese defense chief said last Tuesday that there have been no more similar attacks, and that threats against Japan in the area are deemed to be "in a temporary lull at present."

He highlighted the importance of continuing diplomatic efforts to ease tensions in the Middle East, where US forces were on the verge of taking military action against Iran after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone flying over Iranian waters near the Strait of Hormuz in late June.

Japanese media have said Washington's proposal could be on the agenda during US national security adviser John Bolton's ongoing visit to Tokyo.

Bolton on Monday met Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Iwaya and national security adviser Shotaro Yachi.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that before making a decision on "what to do, Japan would like to make every effort to reduce tensions between Iran and the United States."

The US that has been pursuing a campaign of "maximum pressure" on Iran has urged its allies to follow suit.

Germany won't follow US policy on Iran: FM

In remarks on Monday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the country would not follow US President Donald Trump's approach to Iran, instead prioritizing de-escalation through diplomacy.

The top German diplomat, who was speaking after discussions with British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Sunday and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday, said that alongside handling the dangers in the Strait of Hormuz, Europe will continue to play the "diplomatic card."

Mass said that "what we need is de-escalation, and my British and French colleagues have the same opinion."

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