(Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Takanami)[Courtesy of MSDF]

TOKYO - The Japanese government on Friday ordered the Maritime Self-Defense Force to dispatch a destroyer and patrol planes to the Middle East on an information-gathering mission.

The dispatch, approved by the Cabinet late last year, is intended to help secure the safe passage of Japanese commercial ships through waters in the region amid hostilities between the United States and Iran, although fears of an all-out conflict are easing.

Related coverage:

Abe to make 5-day trip to Mideast as Japan orders naval dispatch