Reports in local newspapers on Sunday said the helicopter carrier Izumo will join a US supply ship sailing off Japan’s southern coats to escort it further into the western Pacific.
The leading Asahi Shimbun daily and Jiji Press wire service said the warship would be dispatched from the mother port of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, on Monday.
The deployment comes amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula where North Korea has resumed its ballistic missile firings.
The US ship which would enjoy the escort is planned to supply America's naval fleet in the Pacific. Washington has sent its aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the region amid increasing tensions with North Korea.
Officials in Tokyo have yet to comment on the reports in the media. USS Carl Vinson joined the Japanese military earlier this week as part of joint drills. The giant carrier then kicked off another joint exercise with the South Korean navy on Saturday. North Korea launched a ballistic missile the same day, apparently defying the US and allies in the region, including Japan and South Korea. Pyongyang has warned that it could sink the US aircraft carrier with a single missile although Seoul said after the missile launch that it was a failure.
Japan’s decision to dispatch the warship to protect the US vessel is the first such deployment, outside of troop exercises, since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adopted a series of decisions in 2015 to expand the military capabilities of Japan, a country known for its pacifist constitution since World War II.