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China Denies Using Weapons-Targeting Radar on Japanese Ship

China’s Ministry of Defense said its ships didn’t use weapons-targeting radar on Japanese naval forces last month, calling statements made by Japanese officials on the issue “irresponsible” and contributing to heightened tensions between Asia’s two biggest economies.

Chinese ships used radar to closely monitor a Japanese military helicopter on Jan. 19 and to track the Japanese destroyer Yudachi on Jan. 30, and in both cases fire-control radar wasn’t used, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

“The Japanese side saying that Chinese naval fire control radar was aimed at Japanese naval units does not correspond with the facts,” according to the ministry statement. “Top officials in the Japanese government are making irresponsible remarks, talking up the ‘China threat,’ creating a tense atmosphere and willfully misleading international public opinion.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Feb. 6 denounced what he said was China’s use of fire-control radar last month twice at Japanese targets in the East China Sea near islands claimed by both countries. The incidents have undermined efforts to ease tensions between the two counties and elicited calls from the U.S. for a diplomatic solution.

The islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are in an area rich in oil, natural gas and fish. Japan’s purchase of three of the islands in September prompted violent protests in China that damaged Japanese businesses.

Fire-control radar is used to provide targeting information to missiles and some naval guns. Its use can in some circumstances be a sign of hostile intent, according to a manual of rules of engagement written under the direction of the U.S. Naval War College.

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