Japan is accusing Chinese navy vessels of locking a weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer and helicopter amid escalating territorial disputes.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tuesday that Chinese navy vessels directed the radar in two incidents last month, on Jan. 19 and Jan. 30. He said it happened in the East China Sea, suggesting it was near disputed islands controlled by Japan and also claimed by China but not giving an exact location.
Onodera said it was abnormal and the action could have led to a dangerous situation. Shots were not fired on either occasion.
Chinese maritime surveillance vessels have repeatedly infiltrated Japanese-claimed waters around the islands since last September when Japan's government nationalized some of the islands. The purchase also triggered violent protests across China.
Tokyo recently approved a once-off 40 billion yen ($436 million) boost in military spending and plans to form a special military unit with 10 patrol ships and two destroyers to defend a group of islets at the core of the dispute, according to The Christian Science Monitor.
"In January, Japanese fighters confronted planes from China on approach to an air defense identification zone near the islets. Later, three Chinese maritime surveillance vessels approached the islets, and Taiwan’s coast guard escorted a small "fishing boat" with 10 activists reportedly on board to the same place. Japan sent all the vessels away.
China, Japan, and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islets, called the Senkakus in Tokyo, the Diaoyu by Beijing, and Tiaoyutai by Taipei. Japan controls the eight uninhabited islands, giving it a massive swathe of territorial water rich in fisheries and possible undersea natural gas reserves."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.