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Japan to send own force, won't join US coalition for Mideast

Japan to send own force, wont join US coalition for Mideast

Tokyo: Japan has decided not to join a US coalition to protect commercial vessels in the Middle East, but will send its own force to ensure the safe shipment of oil to Japan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Friday that Japan will keep cooperating closely with Washington even if it won't join the initiative the US says is aimed at protecting commercial tankers from alleged Iranian attacks.

Japan's energy needs rely heavily on oil imports. It has kept friendly ties with Iran and is reluctant to join such a force.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has tried to help ease tension between Washington and Tehran. Suga said Japan plans to deploy warships to the Gulf of Oman, the Northern Arabian Sea and nearby waters, but timing hasn't been decided.

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