|JS Izumo (File Photo)|
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan has issued its first order for forces to protect U.S. military vessels since new security legislation was enacted last year, Japanese government sources said Sunday, amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada ordered the dispatch of the Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier Izumo on Monday to protect a U.S. Navy supply vessel in the Pacific, the sources said.
The United States has sent the Navy's Carl Vinson carrier strike group to waters near the Korean Peninsula, amid signs North Korea could test-fire more missiles or conduct a nuclear test.
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile Saturday, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The U.S. aircraft carrier arrived in the Sea of Japan on the same day and conducted a joint drill with MSDF destroyers and another one with South Korea's navy.
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