Tokyo does not rule out engagement with Seoul when patrolling in the Middle East

Japan had previously decided to send a patrol mission to the Gulf of Oman.

The Government of Japan does not exclude the possibility of cooperation with South Korea on maritime security in the Middle East, as both countries are conducting patrols in the region. This was announced by Cabinet Secretary General Yoshihide Suga at a press conference in Tokyo on Wednesday.

“Japan, through its own initiative, is collecting information in appropriate areas. It is crucial to cooperate and maintain contact with countries that share these goals when necessary. We are closely following the efforts of the South Korean side,” he said in response to a request to comment on the possibility of cooperation between the two countries in the Middle East.

Japan decided in early January to send a patrol mission to the Gulf of Oman involving two anti-submarine aircraft and one destroyer. South Korea also expanded the area of responsibility of its naval unit off the Arabian Peninsula this week. However, the two countries have no intention of joining the Strait of Hormuz Shipping Protection Coalition.

The situation in the Persian Gulf area worsened last summer, when the British flagged tanker Stena Impero was detained in the Strait of Hormuz by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, elite units of the Iranian Armed Forces). According to the IRGC, the tanker was arrested “in violation of international rules” and escorted to the port for inspection. Last autumn, with the permission of the Iranian authorities, the tanker left the territorial waters of IRI. The US State Department announced that Washington is creating a coalition with the purpose of providing freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf region. Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Great Britain announced their intention to join the coalition.