TOKYO: Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono said Friday that a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer will leave for Middle East waters on May 10, as the country's second vessel to be dispatched to the region to gather intelligence for securing sea lane safety there.
The MSDF destroyer Kirisame will replace Takanami, also an MSDF destroyer, which has been engaged in the mission since February.
Extraordinary health checks will be conducted on Kirisame crew members before the ship's departure from the MSDF's Sasebo base in Nagasaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan, in order to prevent a group infection with the new coronavirus on the vessel.
The crew members will engage in training exercises in the seas near Japan for two weeks after the departure. The destroyer will then head for the Middle East if all of those aboard are confirmed uninfected with the virus.
The Kirisame is expected to start the surveillance mission in the Middle East in early June.
"Tensions are seen there but no major changes have occurred," Kono told a press conference.
The Defense Ministry will closely watch the situation of the virus outbreak in the Middle East to decide whether to continue the mission, he said.