TOKYO – The Japanese government Friday lodged a formal protest with Beijing after confirming the submarine that intruded into Japan’s territorial waters off Okinawa Prefecture was a Chinese vessel.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said the government had determined that the submarine belonged to the Chinese navy.
The vessel sailed out of waters under Japan’s air defense identification zone about 7 a.m. Friday, two days after the intrusion, the Defense Agency said.
Hosoda said the government’s conclusion was based on two factors – the direction the submarine took after trespassing Japanese waters, and the likelihood that it was nuclear-powered.
Just before Hosoda’s news conference, Defense Agency Director Gen. Yoshinori Ono rescinded the order issued Wednesday morning for the Maritime Self-Defense Force to track the submarine.
The Foreign Ministry summoned Cheng Yonghua, minister at the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo, to formally protest the submarine’s violation of Japanese territorial waters.
Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told reporters that he met with Cheng to issue a strong protest and demand an apology from Beijing. He also demanded that China take measures to prevent another such incident.
The Chinese diplomat said he would immediately convey Machimura’s statement to the Chinese government, but added that Beijing’s investigation was ongoing, and therefore it was not in a position yet to say whether it would accept the protest and apologize.
As of Friday afternoon, the submarine was running submerged in international waters. Anti-submarine patrol aircraft and two MSDF destroyers continued to shadow the submarine until the order was lifted, agency officials said.