Chinese warships circumnavigate Japan archipelago

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Defense Ministry head office is seen in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 14, 2020.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Three Chinese naval ships have circumnavigated the Japanese archipelago over three weeks, the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff said Thursday.

The ships, including a Renhai-class destroyer, were spotted sailing north between the southwestern islands of Okinawa and Miyako from Wednesday night to Thursday to enter the East China Sea from the Pacific.

The three had entered the Sea of Japan after passing through the Tsushima Strait between the Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula on June 12.

They then traveled to the northern island of Hokkaido. One of them passed through the Tsushima Strait between the Honshu and Hokkaido islands and the other two through the Soya Strait between Hokkaido and Russia’s Sakhalin, before all three entered the Pacific.

The three sailed south off the Pacific coast of Honshu to waters off the Boso Peninsula near Tokyo before being found traveling west near the Izu island chain June 21. Later, they are believed to have conducted drills off Okinawa Prefecture.

From June 16 to 21, five Russian naval ships went half around the Japanese archipelago.

China and Russia “have shown off their military presence to Japan,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told a news conference Tuesday, expressing concern.

Recently, Chinese warships and warplanes are increasingly active near Okinawa and Taiwan. The areas have spread to places where such activities were not usually seen, such as waters north of the island of Hachijojima and waters between the Yonaguni Island and Taiwan.

The ministry is trying to identify China’s intentions and the background of the activities.