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Australia, Japan mark new level of naval interoperability in JMSDF escort mission

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Murasame-class destroyer JS Inazuma . The vessel undertook an escort mission of HMAS Warramunga in November 2021. (Hachiro Nakai)

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has dispatched Murasame-class destroyer JS Inazuma to escort the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Anzac-class frigate HMAS Warramunga, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo has announced.

The escort mission marks the first time that Japanese forces have protected warships other than US Navy (USN) vessels.

The mission took place during bilateral exercise ‘Nichi Gou Trident', which was conducted from 10 to 12 November south of Shikoku (one of Japan's four main islands), at the request of Australia, the MoD announced on 12 November.

“Protection of the Australian military represents enhanced interoperability and closer co-operation with our special strategic partner Australia,” the MoD said.

The ministry also added that “bilateral defence co-operation is vital to maintain the peace and stability of Japan and this region”.

Security legislation in Japan, introduced in 2016, enables the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to protect weapons and military equipment belonging to other countries during non-combat situations, such as military exercises, by increasing interoperability between Japanese and US forces.

The JSDF has been involved in missions protecting US warships and aircraft since 2017, and the number of those missions hit a high of 25 in 2020, according to the MoD.

In June 2021 the foreign and defence ministers of Australia and Japan agreed to carry out similar operations to protect Australian Defence Force assets.

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