Japan scrambles for information on ship attacks near Strait of Hormuz

TOKYO, June 14 (NNN-KYODO) – Japan sought further information Friday about the attacks on two oil tankers, one of them operated by a Tokyo-based company, near the Strait of Hormuz the previous day.

“We have not learned who carried out the attacks and how,” transport minister Keiichi Ishii told a news conference.

The attacks on Thursday came during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s landmark trip to Iran for talks with the Middle East country’s leaders aimed at easing tensions between Tehran and Washington.

The United States, Japan’s security ally, claims Iran is responsible for the attacks near the strategically important sea lane, saying its assessment is based in part on intelligence.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went so far as to say Iran “insulted Japan” by attacking the Kokuka Courageous, operated by Kokuka Sangyo Co.

U.S. Central Command Powerpoint slide on damage found on Kokuka Courageous

Crew of Kokuka Courageous receive aid from sailors aboard U.S. destroyer Bainbridge)
Photos courtesy of U.S. Navy

Ishii, who is in charge of maritime matters, also said it remains unknown whether the incident is linked to Abe’s Iran visit.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a separate news conference the government is “closely collaborating and exchanging information with the United States.”

But the top government spokesman refrained from commenting further, citing ongoing information gathering.

The attacks took place near the Strait of Hormuz, a key corridor through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes, and pushed up crude oil prices amid fears about supply disruptions

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said, “Although there will be no problem with stable supply of energy, we will continue to monitor the relevant information.”

File photo of Kokuka Courageous