A patrol plane unit of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force is preparing for its intelligence-gathering mission in the Middle East.
The defense ministry announced that as of Monday local time, two P-3C aircrafts which departed from Japan on January 11 had replaced a unit engaged in anti-piracy activities off Somalia.
It said two planes will undergo maintenance before beginning their mission on Tuesday.
The unit is stationed in the east African nation of Djibouti. It will expand on existing anti-piracy activities, with new information gathering duties to ensure the safety of any ships in the region with ties to Japan.
This is the Self-Defense Forces' first long term intelligence-gathering mission overseas.
A destroyer is due to leave Japan in early February to join the effort.