Japan seeks restraint from America and Iran before the planned Self Defense Force mission
Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan seeks restraint from America and Iran over the ongoing crisis between both nations. This rupture increased after America killed Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. Therefore, Japan hopes to prevent any further escalation based on taking a more diplomatic approach.
Of course, for Japan, this nation relies heavily on energy emanating from the Middle East. Thus, in the past, Japan was more independent in its approach to Israel rather than the natural bias of past American administrations.
Taro Kono, the Japanese Defense Minister, contacted Iran and expressed that the planned mission of the Self Defense Force to the fragile Middle East will go ahead – despite heightened tensions. The Defense Minister spoke to Iran’s counterpart, Amir Hatami, about the mission.
Hence, Kono sought reassurances from Iran. Hatami based on Japan’s neutral approach to the region duly obliged this. Therefore, recent meetings between Japan and Iran are cementing ties gradually.
Reuters reports, “Japan, a U.S. ally maintaining friendly ties with Iran, is looking to launch its own naval operation rather than joining the U.S.-led mission to protect shipping in the region.”
Thus, Japan will avoid becoming entangled in the heightened Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. Instead, Japan will focus on collecting information from the Gulf of Oman and other adjoining areas outside of the main area of dispute.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran stipulated late last year, “Japan has announced it will not take part in the Americans’ plans for security in the (Gulf) region … which is something we welcome.”
The main fear for Japanese politicians opposed to Japan’s mission is that America or Iran could easily unravel the region based on a major mistake – misunderstanding – or an outright provocation. Equally important, with military conflict, geopolitical games, and terrorism being part and parcel of nations including Iraq, Syria, and Yemen – and tensions existing between so many parties – then Japan may find its moderation sidelined. Therefore, the risk factor is visible for Japan given the current fragile state of affairs.
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