A Japanese warship departed Sunday for the Middle East to ensure the safety of the country’s oil tankers in waters where tensions between the U.S. and Iran are high.
The guided-missile destroyer Takanami with some 200 sailors left Japan’s main naval base in Yokosuka, near Tokyo. Its main task is primarily to gather intelligence in the Gulf of Oman and nearby waters.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the waters “a lifeline that supports the lives of the Japanese people.”
Thousands of Japanese ships ply the route every year, transporting 90 percent of the country’s oil supply, he said.
“Your mission of information gathering is an extremely significant one that directly affects people’s lives,” Abe told the troops in a televised sendoff ceremony at Yokosuka.