Abe Calls Appearance of Unidentified Subs Near Japan ‘Serious’

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today the entry by a submarine from an unidentified country into waters near Japan was a serious matter that must not be allowed to happen again.

Japan’s Defense Ministry yesterday said it had detected a submarine traveling under water within its “contiguous zone,” adjacent to its territorial waters, in Okinawa prefecture on May 12. An unidentified submarine also sailed while submerged into the contiguous zone on May 2, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

Japan and China are locked in a territorial dispute over East China Sea islands and their ships and planes have been tailing one another through adjacent seas for months. Japan said that a Chinese ship had locked weapons-control radar onto one of its helicopters in January.

“Coming so close to territorial waters is a serious action,” Abe told a parliamentary committee in Tokyo. “I am not going to mention the nationality of the submarine, but we have already carried out the necessary analysis, including about its nationality. We want the relevant country to be aware that this must never happen again.”

Abe said he had decided to make the incidents public because they occurred close together, giving the impression that they were intentional. Submarines are required to surface before entering other countries’ territorial waters in order to prevent any stealth attack on ships, he told the committee.

The submarine was detected by a P-3C surveillance aircraft close to the island of Kumejima on May 12, the ministry said. In the earlier incident, a submarine was spotted close to Amami Oshima, an island roughly half way between Okinawa and the southernmost main island of Kyushu, it said.

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