A Chinese military frigate locked weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese navy vessel, Tokyo’s defence minister said Tuesday, in an apparent upping of the stakes in a bitter territorial row.
The move, described by the minister and a Japanese analyst as “dangerous”, marks the first time the two nations’ navies have locked horns in a dispute that has some commentators warning about a possible armed conflict.
“On January 30, something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defence Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea,” Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.
“The defence ministry today confirmed radar for targeting was used.”
Onodera said a Japanese military helicopter was also locked with a similar radar on January 19. He did not specify whether the helicopter was airborne or on the deck of a ship at the time.
Officials said on both occasions the targeting had lasted “minutes”.
The move is a ratcheting-up of an already tense situation in the East China Sea, where Asia’s two largest economies are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of an uninhabited island chain.
Hisao Iwashima, a Japanese defense analyst formerly of Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies, said Beijing needed to answer for what its navy had done.