NHK reported this morning and at noon that a Chinese navy intelligence-gathering ship entered Japanese territorial waters west of Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima at about 3:30 a.m. this morning. The network said an MSDF P3C airplane confirmed the ship’s intrusion into Japanese waters, adding that the ship left the territorial waters at about 5 a.m. The network added that it is extremely rare for a Chinese naval ship to enter Japanese waters. All other broadcasters carried similar stories.
Asahi filed a similar story online saying that MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kanasugi spoke by phone with a senior official at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo at around 9:35 a.m. on Wednesday. Kanasugi reportedly said Japan is concerned about the Chinese military’s activities following a Chinese naval ship’s recent passage through the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands. An unnamed GOJ official said Kanasugi’s conversation with the Chinese official was not a “protest.” Defense Minister Nakatani told reporters that Japan will continue to make utmost efforts to exercise vigilance and surveillance in surrounding waters and airspace. NHK also reported on Nakatani’s comments, quoting him as saying: “The Chinese naval ship’s passage occurred after an Indian naval vessel that participated in a Japan-U.S.-India military exercise passed through the Japanese waters…We have not issued an order to initiate a maritime patrol operation. We are analyzing China’s intention and purpose.” Nakatani also reportedly told reporters that China is a neighbor and should be more careful when taking such actions, and said he is extremely concerned that a Chinese naval ship entered Japanese waters for the second time since the end of WWII.
Japanese netizens reacted sharply to the incident, with more than 5,500 comments posted on a Sankei report carried by Yahoo!Japan News. The comment that received the most likes was: “An incursion into Japanese waters by a military vessel is no laughing matter. The vessel could be attacked and sunk. I hope the SDF will do their job properly.” The comment had received more than 32,000 likes as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Many questioned why the SDF didn’t fire warning shots, while some stressed the need to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.