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Japan Dispatches Destroyer to Troubled Mideast Waters

The Japanese Maritime Self-defense Force destroyer Takanami departed the Yokosuka Naval Base on Sunday and headed for the Gulf of Oman, where it will play a role in protecting Japanese and other commercial vessels plying waters near Iran. The destroyer will be joined on-station by two maritime patrol aircraft. Tokyo will operate these military assets independently of a joint patrol force led by the United States with participation by such countries as the United Kingdom, Australia and Bahrain. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally saw off the vessel. “Thousands of Japanese ships ply those waters [around the Strait of Hormuz] every year, including vessels carrying nine-tenths of our oil,” he told the 200 members of its crew. “It is Japan’s lifeline.” The Japanese patrols will not enter the strategic strait itself, instead concentrating on waters to the north and south. Iran has harassed and commandeered several commercial oil tankers transiting the strait in the past year, and stands accused of carrying out attacks on several others.