Chinese frigate locked radar on Japanese naval vessel: minister
By Hiroshi Hiyama ,AFPTOKYO -- A Chinese military frigate locked weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese navy vessel, Tokyo's defense minister said Tuesday, in an apparent upping of the stakes in a bitter territorial row.
February 6, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
The move, described by the minister and a Japanese analyst as “dangerous,” marks the first time the two nation's navies have locked horns in a dispute that has some commentators warning about a possible armed conflict.
“On Jan. 30, something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defense Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea,” Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.
“The defense ministry today confirmed radar for targeting was used.”
Onodera said a Japanese military helicopter was also locked with a similar radar on Jan. 19. He did not specify whether the helicopter was airborne or on the deck of a ship at the time.
Officials said on both occasions the targeting had lasted “minutes.”
“Directing such radar is very abnormal,” he said. “We recognize it could 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 a ratcheting-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.
Hisao Iwashima, a Japanese defense analyst formerly of Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies, said Beijing needed to answer for what its navy had done.
“It could have been a test but it the Japanese side wouldn't have known if it was, or if it would lead to a launch,” he told AFP.
“The Chinese side is responsible for explaining why it took such potentially dangerous action.”
Also Tuesday Tokyo summoned China's envoy in protest at the presence a day earlier of Chinese government — but not military — ships in the waters around the Tokyo-controlled Senkakus, which Beijing claims as the Diaoyus and Taiwan calls the Diaoyutais.