This handout picture, released by Japan's Defense Ministry on Feb. 5, shows a Chinese military frigate ship that allegedly directed fire-control rader against Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force escort ship in the East China Sea on Jan. 30. (Defense Ministry via AFP)
TOKYO — A Chinese military frigate has locked its weapon-targeting radar on a Japanese navy vessel on at least one occasion, Japan’s defense minister said Feb. 5, in an apparent upping of the stakes in a bitter territorial row.
“On January 30, something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defense Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea. The defense ministry today confirmed radar for targeting was used,” Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.
Onodera said a Japanese military helicopter was also locked with a similar radar a few days earlier.
“Directing such radar is very abnormal,” he said. “We recognize it would create a very dangerous situation if a single misstep occurred.
“We will seek the Chinese side’s self-restraint from taking such dangerous action.”
The move is an apparent ramping up of an already tense situation in the East China Sea, where Asia’s two largest economies are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of an uninhabited island chain. On Feb. 5, Tokyo summoned China’s envoy in protest at the presence a day earlier of Chinese government ships in the waters around the islands.
No mention was made in the earlier announcement of the actions of any Chinese military vessels.
It was not believed that the military ships had been in what Japan considers its waters.
“The foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador over ships entering the waters near Senkaku islands,” said an official, referring to a chain claimed as the Diaoyus by Beijing.