Photo/IllutrationMore than 30 vessels, including fishing boats, operate in the Strait of Hormuz on July 3. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The government is considering dispatching the Self-Defense Forces to areas near the Strait of Hormuz to protect tankers and other vessels on its own, rather than joining the coalition pushed by the Trump administration.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga acknowledged at a news conference on Oct. 18 that Tokyo is mulling the option.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed government officials to consider the dispatch of the SDF independently when he met with the chief Cabinet secretary, foreign minister and defense minister at the National Security Council on the afternoon of Oct. 18.

Although Washington is a key ally to Tokyo, Abe is set to opt out of joining the coalition to avoid worsened relations with Iran, an important oil supplier to Japan over many years.

Abe flew to Tehran in June to meet with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to act as an intermediary between the United States and Iran as tensions between the two countries escalate.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called on other countries to dispatch their forces to the strait following a series of attacks on international vessels, including one on a tanker operated by a Japanese company in June.

It is not clear who are responsible for the attacks, but Washington has blamed Iran for them.

After U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Tokyo in July to join the effort, the government has been weighing a possible SDF dispatch to the areas outside the Persian Gulf, such as the Gulf of Oman, on its own.