All papers reported on an MOD announcement on Thursday that a PLA Navy spy ship entered contiguous waters in the vicinity of Kitadaito Island east of the main island of Okinawa yesterday afternoon and stayed there for about an hour. As this ship also intruded into Japan’s territorial waters around Kuchinoerabu Island off Kagoshima on Wednesday, MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kanasugi reportedly spoke by phone with a senior Chinese Embassy official to relay concern. An unnamed senior Japanese diplomat said: “Although the latest incident does not constitute a violation of international law, we conveyed apprehension about escalated Chinese operations.” The papers added that the PLA ship appeared to be monitoring the ongoing Malabar exercise involving the U.S., Japan, and India.
Asahi wrote that regarding the Chinese warship’s intrusion into territorial waters on Wednesday, the Chinese side has begun insisting that it was “transit passage through international straits,” instead of “innocent passage,” noting that although both types of passage are permitted under international law, Japan’s sovereignty would be more restricted under the former scenario than the latter. According to the article, China may be entitled to engage in intelligence gathering during transit passage. Yomiuri said Japan has rejected China’s claim by saying that the area in question is not an “international strait.”