A senior Japanese government official has revealed that a Chinese patrol ship directed weapons-related radar at a Maritime Self-Defense Force (SDF) vessel recently while in waters near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. This was reported by both the Kyodo news agency and NHK Television, and comes on the same day that Japan’s Foreign Ministry summoned and lodged a complaint with China’s ambassador over yet another violation of Japanese territorial waters by Beijing’s ships.
The incident apparently took place several days ago in the waters around the uninhabited islets, and the type of radar used was related to systems that take aim at a target and calculate the range to fire a weapon at a ship. Little other details have been revealed, including how Japan’s Maritime SDF forces or the government came about this information, as there certainly hasn’t been any weapon fire between the two countries at this point, however Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera is said to be holding a press briefing sometime “shortly” to protest the Chinese actions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it clear that he plans to take a tough stance against China and its claims over the disputed territory, as well as increase the country’s defense budget in part to increase the Coast Guard capabilities in the face of the repeated presence of Chinese ships. On Monday two such vessels entered territorial water and remained there for 14 hours, ignoring warnings to leave the area. While it’s apparent that little progress is being made from either Japan or China on claims to ease diplomatic tensions, the use weapons-related radar is a significant step towards armed conflict.