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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 October 16 - 21  > Abe government to consider dispatching SDF to Middle East
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2019 October 16 - 21 [SDF]

Abe government to consider dispatching SDF to Middle East

October 19, 2019

The Abe government is considering dispatching Self-Defense Forces units to the Middle East, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide said at a press conference on October 18.

According to Suga, at a meeting of the National Security Council held earlier on the day, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo instructed relevant ministers to examine that possibility. Maritime SDF vessels and patrol planes would be deployed to the region. In addition, the government will consider making use of SDF anti-piracy units stationed in Djibouti, eastern Africa, in order to carry out the deployment plan.

The Abe government took this move amid the growing tension in the Hormuz Strait, which was a result of the U.S. Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump seeks to take military responses to deal with the tension he himself caused. This is unreasonable. There is no wonder the U.S.-proposed maritime security initiative for the Hormuz Strait is attracting little support. The Abe government insists that Abe’s decision to begin considering the dispatch of SDF units to the tense region does not have direct connection with Trump’s initiative, but it is obvious that Abe intends to back up the Trump administration which is increasingly isolated in the international community regarding the Iran issue. Suga in the press conference underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Middle East as well as the need to secure the safety of Japanese vessels and vessels of allies. However, to arrange the SDF dispatch has little to do with what Suga said and will instead add fuel to regional tensions.

Suga also said that the Japanese government has implemented diplomatic efforts to ease the tension in the region by citing Abe’s visit to Iran. It is true that Abe in June went to Iran and that in September he had a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sideline of the UN General Assembly. However, Abe failed to mediate between Iran and the U.S. and made no contribution to the settlement of the issue.

What Japan should do is to work together with European nations to persuade the U.S. to come back to the nuclear deal with Iran. In the Middle East, Japan is respected for its war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution although SDF deployment to Iraq has damaged this reputation. Japan should promote dialogue based on the spirit of Article 9 and seek a diplomatic solution.

Past related articles:
> Don’t send SDF to work with Trump’s ‘coalition of willing’ against Iran: Shii [July 13, 2019]
> JCP policy chief: attacks on private tankers unforgivable [June 15, 2019]
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