Japan’s government will prioritize lobbying Tehran to ease tensions over the Iranian situation, while taking time to coordinate with Washington over a US-proposed international coalition to safeguard waters in and around the Strait of Hormuz, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun wrote on Saturday.
The leading daily said the government of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is carefully studying whether to join the planned multinational coalition because Tokyo remains unsure of the real intentions of US President Donald Trump’s administration, and also because it still aims to help ease tensions between the two countries through its diplomatic channels with Iran.
According to the daily, the government, unlike in the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Afghanistan war in 2001, believes Japan is not required to take immediate action on the coalition plan.
In addition, US national security advisor John Bolton reportedly did not strongly urge Japan to join the coalition during his visit to the country on Monday.
The government thus plans to calmly consider US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s request to join the coalition and spend more time coordinating with the United States on how Japan can contribute to the situation.
A Japan-US foreign ministers’ meeting is scheduled for next week on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Bangkok.
However, a senior Foreign Ministry official said, “Nothing will be decided [at the talks].”
For the time being, Japan’s government intends to prioritize lobbying Iran, which has maintained friendly relations with Japan over the years.
“If the coalition takes on the feel of being strongly confrontational toward Iran, it will be difficult for Japan to participate,” said a senior ministry official.
The government is also exploring the possibility of a meeting between Abe and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in September, and will continue to make diplomatic efforts aimed at easing tensions. It plans to explain its position to the United States.