Japan confirms sub spotted near Senkakus was Chinese

Japan and China have renewed their war of words over a group of disputed islets after Japan reported spotting a Chinese warship and an unidentified submarine in the East China Sea.

Not surprisingly, the frigate from China and likely submarine from the same nation drew consternation from Japan after sailing near the territorial waters of Japan. The previous day, Japan lodged a protest with China over the presence of a frigate in the same area. "The presence of the submarine in Japan's contiguous waters, along with that of the frigate, has unilaterally raised tensions".

Japan's vice minister for foreign affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua to voice Tokyo's concerns, as the two Asian giants explore ways to ease bilateral tensions, complicated by North Korea's nuclear and missile drive. China has probed Japan's claimed waters and air space in the East China Sea with a range of assets so far, including aircraft, drones, and surface ships.

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.

Beijing said it firmly opposed and was strongly dissatisfied with Japan's actions, which had "mixed up right and wrong", the statement said. 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.

A Chinese navy frigate was spotted Thursday morning entering the contiguous zone northeast of Taisho island, the statement said.

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.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Japan calls on China to "not engage in actions that impede the improvement of bilateral relations". A defense ministry spokesman declined to discuss the measures being taken.

Ministry officials say Cheng rebuffed Japan's protest, saying the islands are part of China's territory.

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


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