Japan strongly condemns Iranian attack on Israel as "escalation"

Objects are intercepted in the sky after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, on April 14. - PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters): Japan strongly condemned a retaliatory attack by Iran on Israel, calling it an escalation of events and saying it was deeply concerned at the situation, in a statement released by the foreign minister on Sunday.

"This attack is one that further worsens the current Middle East situation. We are deeply concerned and strongly condemn this sort of escalation," the statement said.

Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a retaliatory strike for an attack on its embassy in Syria that it blamed on Israel that raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

Peace and stability is especially important for Japan, and the government will continue to take the necessary diplomatic steps to prevent a deterioration of the situation, the statement also said.

Japan relies heavily on the Middle East for its oil imports, with 95% of its crude oil coming from the region.

Japan has also traditionally been a friendly nation to Iran, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meeting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as recently as September to discuss Iran's nuclear programme.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Christian Schmollinger) - Reuters

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