|JS Izumo (File Photo)|
TOKYO, May 1 (Xinhua) -- A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) "helicopter carrier" set sail to escort a U.S. Navy vessel in the Pacific, marking the first time such a protection mission has taken place under the controversial new security legislation.
Japan's Ministry of Defense (MOD) said the inaugural mission, since contentious new legislation took effect last year, is aimed at showing that the Japan-U.S. alliance stands firm amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The security legislation, which has looser, ambiguous constraints imposed on Japanese forces by Japan's war-renouncing Constitution, allows SDF members to escort and guard vessels and weapons that belong to U.S. forces.
This protection mission, ordered by Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, came as the two countries may be engaged in joint exercises or the monitoring and information-gathering activities related to missile launches by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
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