Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A submarine and a Chinese Navy warship have entered the contiguous zone surrounding Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
In the announcement, the ministry did not mention the nationality of the submarine, or even whether its nationality had been identified. But the submarine is believed to be from China as well, informed sources said.
It was the first time for the government to disclose its detection of a foreign submarine in the contiguous zone near the Senkakus.
The Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted the submarine traveling in the contiguous zone east-northeast of Miyakojima, an island in Okinawa, on Wednesday afternoon. The submarine left the zone on Thursday morning, but again sailed into the zone northeast of Taisho Island in the Japanese-administered Senkaku chain later.
Meanwhile, the Chinese frigate was spotted in the contiguous zone near the isle on Thursday morning. Both vessels sailed out of the zone in the afternoon, without reaching the Japanese territorial waters.
The government stopped short of ordering a maritime security operation by the SDF.
Japan saw foreign submarines navigating in its contiguous zone in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
In 2004, the government ordered an SDF maritime security operation after a Chinese nuclear submarine intruded into Japanese waters around the Saki-shima island chain, southern Japan.
Following the latest incident, Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to the ministry and lodged a protest with him.
“We’ll demand that the Chinese side not impede the current momentum for improving Japan-China relations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.
At a news conference in Beijing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman defended the Chinese warship’s entry into the contiguous zone near the Senkaku Islands, insisting that the uninhabited islands are part of China’s inherent territory.Speech