Japan sends largest warship to escort U.S. supply vessel near North Korea

04 May, 2017, 00:35 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • US Carrier Strike Group Arrives Off Korean Coast

Japanese media said the US supply ship is expected to refuel other American warships, including the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula.

The Japanese helicopter carrier is set to depart Yokosuka port in Kanagawa Prefecture to Monday to escort the US Navy supply ship from waters off the Boso Peninsula, near Tokyo, to the area off Shikoku, one of the four main islands of Japan.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force dispatched the Izumo, a helicopter carrier, on Monday morning from Yokosuka base, southwest of Tokyo. The U.S. official, however, wouldn't confirm any meetings beyond ones with officials at U.S. Forces in Korea and the U.S. Embassy.

In recent weeks, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have made separate trips to Seoul reaffirming an alliance with South Korea under President Trump in the face of growing North Korean threats.

Abe told reporters in London on Saturday: "Despite strong warnings by the global community, North Korea today went through with its ballistic missile launch".

Critics say these laws violate Japan's post-World War Two pacifist constitution.

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To ensure success of their escort mission, the Japanese seamen have been authorized the "minimum necessary use of weapons", to deter any attacks amid North Korean threats to sink USA ships, the Japan Times reports.

While the operation in question takes place in the Pacific Ocean rather than the East Sea and the chances of the U.S. military being attacked by North Korea there are slight, the decision has prompted some in Japan to accuse Japan and the USA of taking advantage of tensions on the Korean Peninsula to expand the range of JSDF activities.

The government appears to have judged it would be able to achieve more efficient protection by having Sazanami join Izumo, a destroyer that can carry many patrol helicopters and is excellent at detecting submarines.

The constitution states that the Japanese people "forever renounce war" and ban the "use of force" as a means of settling worldwide disputes.

North Korea is "mostly bluffing its military capability, and the missile scare is further hyped up largely by TV", said Hiroki Fujii, a 40-year-old utility employee who lives near Yokota.

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