Japanese officials have informed the US government that Tokyo plans to send defence forces to help safeguard waterways in the Middle East without joining a US-led maritime security coalition.
During a phone call between Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the two also pledged close cooperation on Middle Eastern issues to ease tensions, amid a stand-off between the United States and Iran.
The Japanese government is currently fleshing out the plan to dispatch the Self-Defence Forces to the Middle East. It's reported it is considering assigning two destroyers to the region.
A spokesperson for the US Department of State said:
"Secretary Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Wednesday to discuss coordination on Iran.
Secretary Pompeo reaffirmed the strength of the US-Japan alliance:
"The Secretary and the Foreign Minister pledged to continue to work closely across a broad agenda of regional and global security issues."
The US-led maritime coalition, joined by countries such as the UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia, have been operating around the Middle East, including the hostile Strait of Hormuz.
Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event, Mr Pompeo also addressed a wide range of US diplomacy issues:
"The truth is that Iran is the aggressor, not the aggrieved. The truth is that China is a strategic competitor at best that uses coercion and corruption as its tools of statecraft.
"The truth is that we can’t rely on failed strategies to convince Chairman Kim to give up his nuclear weapons; there’s still much work to be done. And the truth is that we won’t achieve peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan without every party at the table," Mr Pompeo added.
Currently, the Royal Navy's HMS Enterprise is taking part in exercises with a Japanese warship, JS Teruzuki, whilst supporting the host nation during the enthronement of the new Emperor Naruhito.
The survey ship also welcomed onboard HRH the Prince of Wales as he visited HMS Enterprise at Harumi Pier.