Japan Rejects Military Response After Attacks on Gulf of Oman Tanker

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Japan will not send Self-Defense Force personnel to respond to attacks on a Japanese-operated oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, the country’s defense minister said Friday.

Takeshi Iwaya told reporters at a news conference the situation is not considered an imminent threat to Japan, although he could make a different decision if the lives of many Japanese nationals were at risk.

Iwaya said Japan doesn’t think the so-called “Self-Defense Force has a necessary role to play at this point and we don’t plan to send them to the Strait of Hormuz region in response to the attacks.”

The government changed the interpretation of the Constitution five years ago to allow limited use of military force when the country’s survival is threatened.

NHK News reports Iwaya said a threat to Japan’s survival would mean that its citizens’ lives, freedom and the right to pursue happiness could be totally undermined.

Meanwhile, AP reports the Japanese ship operator says sailors on board the Kokuka Courageous, one of the vessels attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, saw “flying objects” just before the attack, suggesting the tanker wasn’t damaged by mines.

That contradicts what the U.S. military has said as it released a video it says shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships in the suspected attack.

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