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The Cabinet on Friday formally adopted a plan to deploy a Self-Defense Forces unit for an intelligence-gathering mission in the sea off Yemen and Oman amid strained tensions over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

According to the plan, Japan will send a destroyer that can carry one or two patrol helicopters in early February, with hopes that the vessel can start operations by the end of the same month in the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea and the eastern side of the Bab el-Mande Strait.

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