"We will make consistent diplomatic efforts to ease the tension and stabilize the situation in the region," Kono said at a joint press conference with his US counterpart Mark Esper.
What Kono stressed the first when answering a question on the matter was that nearly 90 percent of Japan's crude oil import was coming from the Middle East and over 80 percent of it via the Hormuz Strait and Gulf of Oman, so it was in Japan's interest to ensure safe navigation in these waters. This interest, however, will not expand beyond sending patrol ships of self-defence forces to the area for intelligence gathering, he said.
"We have some constitutional restrictions, so we will not be participating in American or European initiatives, but we will be closely communicating with the US as ally," the Japanese minister said.
Last week, Japan sent two Lockheed P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft for a year-long mission covering the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden, while omitting the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. A destroyer will join the aircraft later in February.
Amid a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and Hormuz Strait last year, the US called for establishing an international coalition in the area to ensure safe maritime passage for commercial vessels.