Japan Warns China Over Warship and Submarines Sailing Near Contested Waters

Japan Warns China Over Warship and Submarines Sailing Near Contested Waters

The United States has long declined to take a position on the islands' sovereignty; however, Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have both declared that the Senkakus will be protected under the U.S-Japan security alliance.

Japan's vice foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua to voice Tokyo's concerns over Beijing's military deployment in the disputed waters.

Japan has warned Beijing against taking any actions that will damage bilateral ties, after a Chinese military warship and a foreign submarine were seen near disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday. But the submarine is believed to be from China as well, informed sources said.

Lian Degui, an expert on Sino-Japanese relations at the Shanghai International Studies University, said territorial disputes in the East China Sea and Japan's vocal stance on maritime issues including the South China Sea were also major obstacles to improving ties. The sub exited the contiguous zone and headed toward the Senkakus on Thursday morning.

A foreign submarine was also detected in the area on Wednesday, in the so-called contiguous zone near Miyako Island, southeast of the Senkakus, the ministry said, without identifying the nation involved. China and Taiwan claim them.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the submarine surfaced Thursday flying a Chinese flag on its mast.

"Two naval vessels of Japan's self-defense forces first entered the access zone", the Chinese spokesman said. It left Thursday afternoon. "This unilaterally heightens tensions", Onodera told reporters. 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.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the incidents Thursday by giving instructions to prepare for all possible contingencies and to coordinate closely with the USA, according to a statement released by his Cabinet. The Chinese ship did not enter Japanese territorial waters.

Maritime confrontations and jet interceptions between China and Japan have become commonplace in recent years, especially around the Senkakus. A Chinese frigate was last seen in the contiguous zone in June 2016.

The presence of a submarine during the latest incident adds a new dimension to the fairly regular Chinese incursions into these waters.