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Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force will participate in the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, multinational naval exercises to be held off Hawaii between Aug. 17 and 31, Defense Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday.

MSDF troops will only join offshore drills, without participating in exchange and other events onshore due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Ashigara, an Aegis destroyer, and the Ise helicopter destroyer will join the exercises.

“I want the MSDF members to strengthen relations of trust with participants from other countries,” Kono said at a news conference Tuesday.

Before leaving for Hawaii, crew members of the two destroyers will engage in training in waters near Japan for two weeks while monitoring their health conditions, according to the Defense Ministry’s Maritime Staff Office.

The members will head for the RIMPAC site if none of them shows symptoms linked to the virus during the period.

Kono also said that the Murasame, another MSDF destroyer, will be dispatched to the Middle East on a mission to gather information for ensuring sea lane safety for Japan-linked ships sailing in the region.

The Murasame will engage in the mission in waters including the northern part of the Arabian Sea from the second half of September, according to the minister.

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