Chinese Frigate, Unidentified Submarine Enter Japan-Claimed Waters Near Senkaku Islands

Foreign submarine enters Japan's contiguous zone

Foreign submarine enters Japan's contiguous zone

The incursions happened Wednesday and Thursday in Japan's contiguous zone around Okinawa and the Senkaku Islands by a Chinese frigate and submarine presumed to be from China, Japanese officials said.

A foreign submarine was also detected in the contiguous waters near Japanese territory on Wednesday and Thursday, said the country's Defence Ministry, which believes that the submarine is also from China, as reported by local news agency Kyodo.

Sugiyama "issued a protest by expressing serious concerns and strongly requested China not to interfere with the flow of improving Japan-China relations", the foreign ministry in Tokyo said in a statement. The previous day, Japan lodged a protest with China over the presence of a frigate in the same area. "The presence of the submarine in Japan's contiguous waters, along with that of the frigate, has unilaterally raised tensions".

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the submarine surfaced Thursday flying a Chinese flag on its mast.

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The uninhabited islets are also claimed by China and Taiwan, where they are known as Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

Japan has complained to China after a pair of the country's vessels sailed this week near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Ministry officials say the submarine apparently belongs to the Chinese Navy, as a Chinese frigate was spotted nearby.

The Japan Coast Guard said Chinese ships entered Japanese waters 114 times a year ago.

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In addition, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Kenji Kanasugi met with Chinese ambassador Cheng Yonghua, protesting the incident.

China's timing is equally odd given the fact that Japan is hoping to improve relations between both nations.

The United States has long declined to take a position on the islands' sovereignty; however, Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have both declared that the Senkakus will be protected under the U.S-Japan security alliance.

After the meeting, the ambassador left the ministry without responding to reporters' questions.

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China routinely rejects Japanese criticism of such patrols, saying its ships have every right to operate in what China calls its territorial waters. China and Taiwan claim them.

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