Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Chinese Frigate, Unidentified Submarine Enter Japan-Claimed Waters Near Senkaku Islands

Chinese Frigate, Unidentified Submarine Enter Japan-Claimed Waters Near Senkaku Islands

A foreign submarine was also detected in the contiguous waters near Japanese territory on Wednesday and Thursday, said the country's Defence Ministry, which believes that the submarine is also from China, as reported by local news agency Kyodo.

Japan has complained to China after a pair of the country's vessels sailed this week near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe say it's a fresh start for China and Japan.

Japan lodged a formal protest with China on Thursday after detecting a Chinese frigate and an unidentified foreign submarine in waters close to the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The Senkakus - an uninhabited chain surrounded by resource-rich waters between Okinawa and Taiwan - are claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China, which refers to them as Diaoyu.

"Senkaku is Japan's territory and territorial waters internationally and historically and Japan's claim about the contiguous zone is absolutely correct", Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Friday morning. After all, for Japan, the Senkaku area is part of protecting smaller islands and islets throughout the Okinawa region. Both vessels had left the area by Thursday afternoon. It then re-entered the contiguous zone around Taisho Island, which is part of the Senkakus, before leaving that afternoon.

While incursions into Japan's contiguous zone and territorial sea around the Senkakus are fairly common for Chinese maritime law enforcement vessels and civilian fishing trawlers, incursions by Chinese naval vessels are comparatively rarer.

Onodera made the statement during a visit to Hawaii Thursday.

"We want to strongly urge China not to do anything to interfere with improving bilateral ties", Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a news conference Thursday. A defense ministry spokesman declined to discuss the measures being taken.

The ministry is closely monitoring the submarine's move and collecting information. The Japanese Ministry of Defense did not immediately clarify if the Chinese frigate, which was a Type 054A Jiangkai-II-class frigate, belonged to the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) or the China Coast Guard, which uses the Type 054A as well.

The officials say neither vessel entered Japanese territorial waters.

Japan saw foreign submarines navigating in its contiguous zone in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

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