A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer has begun its mission in the Middle East.
The Takanami left Japan on February 2. On Wednesday, it began intelligence-gathering operations to protect Japan-linked ships sailing through the Gulf of Oman and the northern part of the Arabian Sea.
Japanese Defense Ministry officials say the destroyer's unit will focus on learning the navigational courses and affiliations of vessels that act suspiciously or must be monitored based on intelligence shared with foreign governments.
Another Self-Defense Force unit with a P3C patrol plane has been gathering intelligence in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia since last month and engaging in anti-piracy activity.
The Takanami is on the first long-term overseas SDF mission classified as a study and research activity under the ministry's establishment law.
In the event of unexpected developments in the region, such as an attack on a Japan-linked vessel, the government is to mobilize Self-Defense Force personnel for maritime policing.