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(Update) Iwaya Parries U.S. Defense Chief's Push for Naval Coalition

(Update) Iwaya Parries U.S. Defense Chief's Push for Naval Coalition

   Tokyo, Aug. 7 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya avoided an immediate answer to new U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper's request on Japan to join a U.S.-proposed naval coalition in the Strait of Hormuz off Iran, at their first meeting, held in Tokyo on Wednesday.
   Esper, who took office on July 23, called on Japan to cooperate with the U.S. initiative to ensure safety of navigation in the region, according to sources familiar with the talks between the defense chiefs.
   With the Japanese government now considering the feasibility of sending Self-Defense Forces troops there, Iwaya said only that the government will "make a judgment in a comprehensive way" after looking at "every angle" of the matter.
   Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Iwaya revealed that he told the U.S. side that Japan will make a decision by taking into account both its defense alliance with the United States and traditional friendship with Iran, as well as the need for stable domestic oil supplies.
   "The Middle East is a crucially important region for our country's energy security," Iwaya stressed.

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AFP-JIJI PRESS NEWS JOURNAL


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