TOKYO: The Kirisame destroyer of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force left for the Middle East on Sunday on a mission to gather information to ensure sea lane safety there for ships linked to Japan.
The Kirisame, with a crew of some 200, departed from the MSDF base in Sasebo in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Nagasaki. It will replace the Takanami, another MSDF destroyer, which is now on the information-gathering mission, in early June.
Following the departure, the crew members of the Kirisame will take polymerase chain reaction tests for the novel coronavirus. The destroyer will head for the Middle East if none of them is found to have the virus during two-week training in waters near Japan, according to the Defense Ministry.
Defense Minister Taro Kono has stressed the importance of checking health conditions of the crew members by conducting PCR tests and set a monitoring period.
The Takanami destroyer began its activities in the Middle East in late February.