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Japan destroyer sailed into China territorial waters despite warnings

36 Comments

A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer temporarily sailed into Chinese territorial waters off the country's eastern province of Zhejiang last week, despite repeated warnings by Chinese vessels, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.

The Suzutsuki, tasked with monitoring Chinese military drills on the high seas, navigated into Chinese waters on July 4, in a rare move by a Self-Defense Forces vessel.

Beijing has conveyed its serious concern to Tokyo over the incident, leading the Japanese Defense Ministry to launch an investigation into the ship's captain, the sources said. The ministry declined to comment on matters concerning SDF operations.

A day before the MSDF destroyer entered Chinese waters, Zhejiang authorities said a no-sail zone would be set up in a nearby area for the Chinese military to conduct a live-fire drill, opening up the risk of a contingency occurring because of the Suzutsuki's presence.

The Chinese government suspects the incident was an "intentional provocation" by the destroyer, and has been collecting and analyzing relevant information, according to Chinese sources.

The Suzutsuki, which was on a mission to monitor the live-fire drill, was urged by the Chinese vessels to leave the area when it approached within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) off the coast of Zhejiang, but it sped up and navigated into the Chinese waters for some 20 minutes before leaving the territorial waters, the diplomatic sources said.

The MSDF ship has in the past monitored the activities of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, deployed in the East China Sea, but Japanese destroyers tasked with surveilling Chinese vessels usually stay away from territorial waters off Zhejiang, they added.

In unofficial talks between the two sides, a Japanese official pointed to the possibility that the entry was a "procedural error," they said.

A Chinese security expert, however, has cast doubt on Tokyo's unofficial view that the MSDF destroyer might have entered the Chinese waters by mistake, citing the Japanese crew's skill levels.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea recognizes the right to "innocent passage," allowing for a vessel to pass through the territorial waters of another state unless it compromises the safety of the coastal state.

Tokyo maintains that the Suzutsuki's entry into Chinese territorial waters was not illegal, citing the right to innocent passage.

But Beijing argues the MSDF ship did not fulfill its requirements under Chinese domestic law that foreign vessels seek its prior permission to enter its waters, the Chinese sources said.

Jun Tsuruta, associate professor of international law at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, said there has been a debate on whether the right to innocent passage can be granted to military vessels as well as commercial ships, and that the issue has not been completely settled based on UNCLOS adopted in 1982.

As Tokyo recognizes the right to innocent passage for foreign military ships navigating into Japanese territorial waters, SDF vessels would not likely seek Beijing's prior approval based on Chinese law before entering the neighboring country's waters, Tsuruta pointed out.

China regularly sends its military and coast guard vessels into Japanese territorial waters near the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which Beijing claims and calls Diaoyu.

While the intention of the destroyer's crew has not been clarified, Japan should refrain from escalating tensions in regional seas, the associate professor said.

"I wonder why Japan made such a provocative move amid efforts by both countries to stabilize relations," a Chinese diplomatic source said.

Sino-Japanese relations have deteriorated over a host of issues, including the release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant that began in August last year, prompting Beijing to impose a total import ban on Japanese seafood.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed during their November meeting in San Francisco to build "mutually beneficial" bilateral relations based on common strategic interests, with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and the Japanese leader confirming the agreement in Seoul in May.

Despite this, negotiations to improve bilateral ties have been slow.

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36 Comments

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So, who is really doing provocation now?

-22 ( +10 / -32 )

Keep up the grey-zone tactics, Japan. It's time. Never let China rest. Ever.

16 ( +29 / -13 )

China can dish it out, but can't take it.

20 ( +29 / -9 )

Oh I see, china can do it hundreds of times a month, in and around Okinawa, but not Japan, ONCE.

23 ( +29 / -6 )

Chinese navy and coast guard vessels have brazenly violated Japanese territorial waters numerous times over the years. Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.

18 ( +24 / -6 )

Good. Repeat this exercise everytime China strays into Japanese waters.

13 ( +24 / -11 )

I think it's important to stay focused on the big picture, which is mostly about Taiwan. In this regard, it important to show both strength and discipline. Individual ships on either the Chinese or the Japanese side should not be making moves on their own.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

So, who is really doing provocation now?

China.

I’m all for this happening every time the Chinese cross into any other country’s territory.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

OK.

The hysterics of certain quarters relating to that Chinese coast guard vessel which went into Japanese waters a few weeks ago look absurd now; surely that must be reclassified as innocent passage, if not freedom of navigation.

This is a completely different kettle of fish: a Japanese warship brazenly entering Chinese waters on an unannounced mission to spy on military drills, which is a blatant provocation from a known belligerent.

Probably the cartel boss egged on their proxy to do it.

-16 ( +5 / -21 )

a Japanese warship brazenly entering Chinese waters on an unannounced mission to spy on military drills, which is a blatant provocation.

Great, wasn't it? A thing of beauty. Because the one provoked was China! The world rejoices. China can only bleat hypocritically.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Time to worry when a Japanese destroyer sails into the Port of Shanghai.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Well done Japan.

All Asian countries at odds with China should synchronize this. And then release simultaneous statements mentioning 'innocent passage'.

9 ( +16 / -7 )

Send the armada

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Beijing has conveyed its serious concern to Tokyo over the incident, leading the Japanese Defense Ministry to launch an investigation into the ship's captain

So govt doesn't have prior knowledge and ship acting on its own

0 ( +6 / -6 )

If Chinese vessels are following Japanese and other ships near Chinese 12nm limits, they aren't free to violate other country's 12nm limits. Smart move.

Start sending a different ship every 12 hours to places all along the Chinese coast, but don't cross the 12nm limit. Keep China busy guarding their real coast.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Returning the cheap buoys left behind in Japan's territory.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

The Japanese navy back to playing silly games off the coast of China once again. And some in the JT "brain trust" are giggly.

Judging by a slew of recent articles I'll go with incompetence to explain the Japanese vessel entering Chinese territorial waters.

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

Maybe Japanese Officers require more navigation training.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Japan should lead by example, and prove that they are now the good guys. This action just give more "ammunition" to the Chinese for their propaganda against Japan.

Those political games seems to be run by retarded 13 years olds...

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

This would be reciprocal if the MSDF destroyer were sailing into disputed territory and its waters. Unfortunately, Japan makes such no claims or disputes so it isn’t equivalent to the Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands. In this case, unless it was an innocent or incompetent mistake, it can be perceived as provocation.

Your answer that the Senkaku’s belong to Japan does not refute the fact that it is in a state of dispute. It is only natural for Japan to defend its perceived own territory and the same for China. It is a territorial dispute.

Japan must set up structures in the Senkaku’s and guard the islands to stand up to China’s claims. Sailing into Chinese territorial waters does not do this imo, as Japan admits, it has no business in Chinese waters off the coast of Zhejiang.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

""In unofficial talks between the two sides, a Japanese official pointed to the possibility that the entry was a "procedural error," they said.""

Probably that's all it was.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Love it! More of this! China needs to be encouraged to pull its head in!

5 ( +12 / -7 )

So Many experts and some War Mongers on this board.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

The Japanese navy back to playing silly games off the coast of China once again. And some in the JT "brain trust" are giggly.

This. It’s as if Japan is timid to push back for the Senkaku’s.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

And China will sailing into Japanese territory waters longer and closer. Thanks for giving us an excuse to escalate these contests !

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

I see a demotion in Capt. Suzuki's future.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

"I wonder why Japan made such a provocative move amid efforts by both countries to stabilize relations," a Chinese diplomatic source said.

Perhaps this "Chinese diplomatic source" is unaware of China's repeated forays into Japanese territorial waters, and the deployment of spy bouys in Japanese waters? The official in question needs urgent updating of the facts on the water as they act like they are completely in the dark regarding China continuing its provocations towards Japan and indeed most others in the region.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

bravo JSDF, you are my hero!

4 ( +9 / -5 )

A really bold and welcome move by Japan.

The world is done with the bullish behaviour of the Chinese towards neighbouring peaceful countries.

Buckle up Philippines, you are next to deliver the blow to Chinese aggression.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

In other words, what China is trying to say is that it is okay for China to violate its territorial waters or airspace, but Japan should not do so.

There is no need or value in responding seriously to China's nonsense every single time.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

What is nonsense is the cheerleading for the illegal and dangerous action of the MSDF ship. The area in question is in the general vicinity of Shanghai. Imagine if this was taking place close to Tokyo.

The area in question is not disputed. It is undeniably Chinese waters.

Think about who is really interested in peace in Asia. Think about who is pursuing a political agenda without any regard for the safety of you and your family.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

The Senkaku Islands are not a disputed area, but China has unilaterally claimed them as territory and is aiming to make them an additional territory. Where in China do people come from who criticize only the actions of the Self-Defense Forces without criticizing China for this?

If the Senkaku Islands are a disputed area, they should definitely appeal to international organizations as a territorial dispute. There is no evidence or proof, and claiming territory after resources are discovered is nothing more than a one-sided accusation.

China does not follow international rules, but it is nothing more than an invading nation that forces others to follow its own rules.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Good. China has been illegally fishing in Japanese waters for a long time. China has been provoking its neighbors.

Japan should be doing this more often.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

What is nonsense is the cheerleading for the illegal and dangerous action of the MSDF ship. The area in question is in the general vicinity of Shanghai. Imagine if this was taking place close to Tokyo.

The area in question is not disputed. It is undeniably Chinese waters.

maybe we talk about Philippines Ayungin shoals? it is CONFIRMED Philippines territory according to UNCLOS! maybe we talk about Taiwan Straits? it was illegally violated by chicom almost everyday! maybe we talk about James Shoals? i bet you will suddenly keep silent then

7 ( +8 / -1 )

i never doubt the level of hypocrite and double-standard practiced by china and its sponsored trolls. in shorts, it means, china can do whatever to you and twisted the international rules, but YOU, you cannot apply the same way to china. Luckily, we have the West, Japan, Europe, Aus, to maintain the rule of law in this beautiful planet

9 ( +10 / -1 )

And how many times has China done the same thing to Japan?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

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