• Defense & Security

Chinese, Russian navy ships spotted near Senkakus

Courtesy of the Defense Ministry
A Chinese Navy Jiangwei II-class frigate is seen navigating in Japan’s contiguous zone off the Senkaku island of Uotsurijima in Okinawa Prefecture.

Chinese and Russian naval ships were seen navigating near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture on Monday morning, the Defense Ministry has announced.

The Chinese Navy’s Jiangwei II frigate entered Japan’s contiguous zone southwest of Uotsuri Island in the Senkakus at around 7:44 a.m. Monday, and left the zone about six minutes later, according to the ministry, while the Russian vessel was spotted for about an hour from 7:05 a.m.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Abukuma destroyer monitored the movements of the Chinese vessel, which was about 22 kilometers outside Japan’s territorial waters.

It was the fourth entry into the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands by Chinese naval vessels, following navigations in June 2016, January 2018 and June 2018.

According to government sources, before entering the contiguous zone, the Chinese frigate was seen approaching the zone and then turning back.

The Japanese government lodged a protest on the day to the Chinese side through diplomatic channels, urging Beijing to ensure such incidents do not happen again.

The Japanese government regarded the incident as a serious concern because China has unilaterally asserted its territorial rights to the Senkaku Islands.

The Russian ship was the same frigate that entered the East China Sea on July 2 after navigating northeast between Yonaguni Island and Iriomote Island in Okinawa Prefecture. The ship is believed to have been in the area to avoid the impact of a typhoon.

The Japanese government asked Moscow for confirmation of relevant information, through diplomatic channels.

The Defense Ministry believes that the Chinese vessel’s navigation was in connection with the movements of the Russian vessel.

“The Senkaku Islands are our country’s inherent territory, historically and under international law,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said at a press conference Monday. “We will respond to the situation calmly and resolutely.”