Chinese Spy Ship Entered Japan Waters

June 15, 2016 – A Chinese spy ship entered Japan’s territorial waters on Wednesday as Tokyo conducted a joint exercise with the United States and India, Japanese officials said.

Japan quickly voiced “concerns” over the intrusion as it came less than a week after another Chinese naval vessel sailed near islands at the centre of a Tokyo-Beijing sovereignty dispute in the East China Sea.

“The Chinese military vessel moved in after an Indian ship sailed into Japan’s territorial waters as it participated in a Japan-US-India joint exercise,” Gen Nakatani, defence minister, told reporters.

Japanese defence ministry officials declined to speculate why the 6,000-tonne “information gathering” vessel sailed into the area, but Nakatani said China, as Japan’s neighbour, must act “carefully”.

A Japanese navy surveillance aircraft spotted the Chinese ship around 3:30 am (1830 GMT Tuesday) in territorial waters near Kuchinoerabu island in southern Japan, said Hiroshige Seko, a government spokesman.

Tokyo did not immediately say by how much the Chinese ship breached its territorial waters, which international law stipulates are a 12-nautical-mile band offshore.

The area is part of a Japanese island chain that divides the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and is not subject to the territorial dispute.

China’s navy was conducting a “normal exercise” and passing through international waters in the Tokara Strait where “all countries can have the right of innocent passage,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing.

“There is no need to provide notification or to get authorisation in advance,” Lu told a regular briefing. “So if Japan insists on hyping up this issue in the media, we have to question its motives.”

China’s defence ministry also said in a statement that its ship’s actions were in accordance with international law.

The Chinese ship sailed southeast and exited Japanese waters around 5 am heading into the Pacific, Japan’s Seko told a press briefing.

Wednesday’s incursion came less than a week after another Chinese naval ship sailed close to the disputed islands further south in the East China Sea, though it did not enter what Japan sees as territorial waters.

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