March 20, 2018

Tokyo protests to Beijing over submarine near disputed islands

13 January 2018, 03:31 | Taylor George

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang

Japan Thursday lodged an official protest with China, after it spotted a Chinese frigate in waters surrounding flashpoint islands in the East China Sea, the first such incursion in more than a year.

The submarine was first detected on Thursday in waters contiguous to Japan's territory around the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

"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.

"The Diaoyu islands are an integral part of China".

The Chinese side explained the move by saying that its navy was in the area to monitor and follow two vessels belonging to Japan.

The Japan Coast Guard said Chinese ships entered Japanese waters 114 times past year.

Global law requires submarines to surface and hoist the national flag when navigating through territorial waters of other nations, but not in contiguous zones. They say both left the contiguous zone on Thursday afternoon. Also, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promising to reach out to China this year, then China's recent deployment of a frigate and submarine is bound to tie the hands of the current leader of Japan if this policy is continued.

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Also off Taisho Island, a Chinese Navy frigate reportedly entered the contiguous zone twice on Thursday.

The incident comes just days after four China Coast Guard vessels entered Japanese territorial waters around the disputed islets.

The ministry is closely monitoring the submarine's move and collecting information.

In addition, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Kenji Kanasugi met with Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua, protesting the incident.

Sugiyama expressed grave concern and stressed that China should not stem the tide for improving Japan-China relations.

The crisis management mechanism, however, excludes Japan's territorial waters and air space around the disputed Senkaku Islands.

The Chinese ambassador responded to the protest by reiterating China's stance on the islands, the statement added. Of course, not neglecting the pro-Han Chinese demographic reality in relation to undermining the indigenous of Tibet and Xinjiang - and China's containment policy of democratic Taiwan.

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