Japan's Abe urges increased diplomatic efforts to deescalate tensions in Mideast
Publish- January 06, 2020, 06:25 PM
Xinhua/UNB - Xinhua/UNB
Update- January 06, 2020, 06:31 PM
Xinhua file photo
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday encouraged a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, calling on all parties involved to step up diplomatic efforts.
Expressing his "deep concern" over a recent spike in tensions after the United States conducted an airstrike on Baghdad killing a top Iranian general last week, with Iran vowing retributions, Abe said parties involved should "exhaust diplomatic efforts" to ease tensions.
"With heightened tensions in the Middle East, I'm deeply concerned about the current situation. A further escalation of the situation should be avoided and I ask all parties involved to exhaust diplomatic efforts to ease tensions," Abe said during his first press conference of the year.
Abe said that Japan will continue to try and mediate between its U.S. ally and Iran, the latter of which Japan maintains friendly ties with, as part of its own diplomatic efforts.
The Japanese leader mentioned no change in its decision made last month to dispatch the nation's Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) personnel to the Middle East, despite rising tensions and public opposition, as well as concern over post-war military constraints restricting the nation's military activities constitutionally.
Japan has decided to conduct its information-gathering and security operations independent of a U.S.-led coalition to ensure maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz, saying that the MSDF will stay away from the strait near Iran in a bid to maintain its friendly ties with Tehran.
Under the current plan, the MSDF could be deployed to the region for around one year, with the duration being extended if approved by the Cabinet.
The strait is a key gateway for oil from the Middle East to reach resource-poor Japan.
Japan relies on the Middle East for the majority of its oil.