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Japanese destroyer leaves port reportedly to escort US warships

Japan increases military role amid tension

KANAGAWA: Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Forces helicopter carrier Izumo sails out its Yokosuka Base in Kanagawa prefecture yesterday.—AFP

TOKYO: A Japanese naval destroyer left port yesterday on a reported mission of escorting US military ships off the coast as Japan tries to increase its military role amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula. The helicopter carrier Izumo departed from the Yokosuka port near Tokyo in the morning. The destroyer was to meet up and escort a US supply ship in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo later yesterday, a new mission under the new security legislation allowing Japan’s military a greater role in overseas activity, according to Japanese media reports.

They said that the US supply ship is expected to refuel other American warships, including the USS Carl Vinson strike group, currently in the region. Japan’s defense ministry only said that the Izumo left yesterday to eventually participate in an international naval event in Singapore on May 15. Tensions have increased as North Korea pushes to develop its missile and nuclear weapons programs in defiance of international sanctions and President Donald Trump warns of the potential threat Pyongyang’s action pose to other countries.

Trump sent the USS Carl Vinson toward the region, and the US and South Korea also started installing a missile defense system that is supposed to be partially operational within days. In Australia, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull used a commemoration of a World War II naval battle to warn North Korea against military threat. “Today Australia and the United States continue to work with our allies to address new security threats around the world,” Turnbull said. “Together, we’re taking a strong message to North Korea that we will not tolerate reckless, dangerous threats to the peace and stability of our region.” Turnbull will meet Trump for the first time Thursday in New York.–AP

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