All Saturday morning papers highlighted the disclosure by Defense Minister Iwaya on Friday that a South Korean navy destroyer’s fire-control radar lit up an MSDF P-1 patrol plane off Ishikawa Prefecture earlier in the day. The GOJ reportedly lodged a protest against what it called a “dangerous act that could have triggered an unforeseen situation.” The location was reportedly within Japan’s EEZ in the Sea of Japan and far from the disputed Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima). Tokyo reportedly dismissed Seoul’s explanation that the radar was activated to “search for a missing North Korea vessel” and not to track the Japanese patrol plane. Mainichi and Sankei opined that the latest incident is bound to aggravate bilateral relations, which have already hit a new low following the dispute over requisitioned workers.
In a follow-up development, all Tuesday morning papers reported on a meeting between MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director General Kanasugi and his ROK counterpart in Seoul on Monday, during which the two sides remained at odds over the alleged incident. The South Korean side emphasized that no action that endangered the Japanese plane was taken and expressed regret that Tokyo informed the media without verifying the facts.
Mainichi and Sankei wrote on Wednesday that the Ministry of Defense issued a statement on Tuesday saying that it has confirmed that the radar lit up the patrol plane multiple times. All national dailies on Wednesday wrote that Iwaya made a comment on the issue at a regular press briefing on Tuesday. Yomiuri and Mainichi quoted him as saying that there are errors of fact in the South Korean explanation.