This is an interesting move and a first by the Japanese Navy. The Japanese largest ship, the Izumo, is being directed to guide a US supply ship as it approaches the Japanese islands for refueling. The supply ship is part of the USS Carl Vinson strike force that is finally in the Sea of Japan (if the reports are correct this time around).
So why is this a interesting move? Well, it is the first time since the Japanese amended their Constitution in regards to protecting allies (before we only permitted to use for defense of Japan), that they will be using their military to protect a foreign ally. This is a sign from the Japanese to both N. Korea and to the allies that are putting together a small fleet in the area that Japan is on board with all of the moves. Right now the USS Carl Vinson, two destroyers, a cruiser, a guided-missile sub, a French vessel, and possibly others are all in the area as a show of force in this highly tense region and now Japan is throwing its hat in the mix.
This thing is going under the radar of the main stream news because, well, let’s face it, Washington DC is pretty busy with all sorts of crazy news at this time. It’s not often that you would send your largest ship to escort an allies supply ship. Something to note.