January 10, 2020 / 8:22 AM / 18 days ago

Japan orders Self Defense Forces to guard ships in Middle East

FILE PHOTO: A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C Orion arrives on Marine Corps Base Hawaii for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercises at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, U.S. June 25, 2018. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kevin A. Flinn/Handout via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono ordered the deployment of a warship and two P-3C patrol planes to the Middle East on Friday to protect ships bringing goods to Japan.

The patrol planes will leave Japan on Saturday and start operations from Jan. 20. The destroyer will depart Japan for the region on Feb. 2 and begin patrols later in the month, Kono told reporters.

Kono was required to issue a special order for the deployment of the forces to allow them to use weapons to protect ships in danger.

Reporting by Daniel Leussink & Tim Kelly; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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