Defense Ministry: Unauthorized Drone Flight Could Cause Serious Hindrance to Defense

From X
The Defense Ministry has determined that a video reposted on X of the Marine Self-Defense Force destroyer Izumo was likely taken by an unauthorized drone.

The Defense Ministry said Thursday it is taking “extremely seriously” the posting on social media of video of a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer suspected to have been taken by an unauthorized drone, and which it acknowledges as highly likely to be authentic.

Flying a drone over a base without consent from facility administrators is prohibited under the Drone Law.

The ministry, upon analyzing the video that shows the destroyer Izumo docked at an MSDF base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, said it “could cause a serious hindrance to defense.”

The video, which lasts about 20 seconds, includes an inscription written in Japanese, English and Chinese that a Chinese spy had used a drone to fly over the Izumo, which at 248 meters in length is one of the largest of the MSDF destroyers.

According to the announcement, the video and still images were uploaded to a Chinese video sharing site on March 26, and reposted on X (formerly Twitter) on March 29. It quickly went viral.

The ministry concluded that based on its analysis on the shapes of the destroyer, nearby buildings, vegetation and other objects shown in the footage, there was little possibility that it was fabricated. The video shows what appears to be the ship’s deck as the drone slowly moves from the stern to the bow.

The ministry did not respond to inquiries about the date and time of the video, claiming disclosing such information would reveal its intelligence-gathering capabilities. A source close to the matter said the MSDF became aware of the video on March 30.

A ministry official acknowledged that countermeasures were not taken to forcibly bring the drone down. “If we had dealt with [the flight], [the drone] would not have flown so smoothly,” the official said, adding that the video did not contain any information that needs to be kept confidential.

Another video posted under the same account name shows an aerial view of a warship believed to be the USS Ronald Reagan, a U.S. aircraft carrier docked at the U.S. Naval Base in Yokosuka.

The ministry has been carefully working to determine why the Izumo video was posted, including the possibility that it was part of information warfare.

The ministry is considering installing high-tech equipment that detects drones and jams radio waves to force them down.

Asked about the Izumo video at a press conference on Thursday, Lin Jian, deputy director general of the press unit at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, “I don’t know where the footage came from,” implying China was not involved.