JEDDAH: Two Japanese naval ships have docked at the Red Sea port of Jeddah on a training mission to strengthen relations with Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi commander of the naval base in the Western Squadron, Rear Admiral Mohammed Al-Aslani, and the Japanese Consul General in Jeddah, Masayuki Miyamoto, welcomed the Japanese crews on Saturday.
The two ships, including the destroyer Makinami, are in Saudi Arabia on a training and goodwill mission until July 17.
The commander of the Japanese squadron, Rear Admiral Hiroyuki Izumi, said the visit would provide training for crew members and help strengthen relations with the Kingdom.
Izumi said the Gulf region is important to Japan and it is the third time the squadron has visited Jeddah. The last visit was six years ago.
“We would like to share with the Saudi Arabian navy the idea of free and open seas, and contribute together to stabilization of maritime borders,” he said.
The commander said that the sea lanes between the Middle East and Japan were vital to the Japanese economy, with 90 percent of oil bound for Japan passing through the area.
“For the safety of this region, the Japanese navy has been conducting counter-piracy operations off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden since 2009,” Izumi said.
“This is important to Japan. Training programs are needed in this area to help ensure the safety of our ships,” he said.
Izumi said that destroyers accompany Japanese commercial vessels when passing through the Gulf of Aden due to “unrest” in the area.
While no joint exercises were planned, the Japanese and Saudi navies were discussing a range of cooperative ventures, he said.