TOKYO: Japan has dispatched a destroyer to escort US warships off Tokyo amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula as the country is eager to boost its military role overseas under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to media reports on Monday.
The helicopter carrier Izumo left the Yokosuka port, south of Tokyo, on Monday, and joined a US supply vessel off Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, Kyodo News agency reported.
It is the country’s first such operation since it passed controversial legislation allowing the Japanese military to expand its role overseas.
The hawkish prime minister has long advocated a more active role abroad for the Japanese military.
Critics say the laws violate Japan’s pacifist constitution as article 9 of the charter prohibits the use of force to settle international disputes.
On Monday, some citizens staged a protest against the mission near the Yokosuka port. — dpa