The Japanese government has said it is considering dispatching planes and patrol vessels to monitor shipping activities and gather information, despite Iran's firm opposition for any outside force presence in the Persian Gulf.

Iran Press/ Asia: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a planned trip to the Middle East slated for mid-January, to explain a potential plan for Japan to dispatch its Self-Defense Forces to the region, Nikkei business daily reported.

Japan is working on a plan to send about 270 seamen to the Middle East to guard ships supplying Japan under a law that allows military deployments for research and intelligence gathering.

The Nikkei said the government would propose deploying one escort ship and a patrol aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defense Force on a one-year mission that could be renewed annually. It plans to finalize the plan by year-end, the news outlet said.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Japan's public broadcaster NHK that Tehran does not believe that the presence of any foreign forces in the region would help boost stability, security or peace.

Araghchi also said last Tuesday that he had conveyed Iran's stance to Abe when the two met.

He said that US policies are the root cause of escalating tensions in the Middle East and criticized Washington for imposing "maximum pressure" on Iran and withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement, NHK said.

Japan’s constitution bans a standing military but allows self-defense forces. Article 9 of the constitution states that the country renounces war as a means to settle international disputes and also prohibits Japan from maintaining war potential.

The prospect of deploying navy personnel to the region has sparked calls for caution from liberal media and other critics.

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