Japan protests after Chinese frigate sails near…

Foreign submarine enters Japan's contiguous zone

Japan has warned Beijing against taking any actions that will damage bilateral ties, after a Chinese military warship and a foreign submarine were seen near disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday.

It was the first time for the government to disclose its detection of a foreign submarine in the contiguous zone near the Senkakus.

"Senkaku is Japan's territory and territorial waters internationally and historically and Japan's claim about the contiguous zone is absolutely correct", Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Friday morning.

The Chinese side explained the move by saying that its navy was in the area to monitor and follow two vessels belonging to Japan. It does not include the contiguous zone, where a coastal state is afforded some law enforcement rights under global law.

Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama lodged protests Thursday and Friday to China's ambassador to Japan, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said.

They say the submarine continued to move northwest and left the contiguous zone into the East China Sea without resurfacing.

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Meanwhile, the Chinese frigate was spotted in the contiguous zone near the isle on Thursday morning. The Chinese ship did not enter Japanese territorial waters. While incursions into Japan's contiguous zone and territorial sea around the Senkakus are fairly common for Chinese maritime law enforcement vessels and civilian fishing trawlers, incursions by Chinese naval vessels are comparatively rarer.

The warship and the submarine had left the waters by the afternoon, the defence ministry said in a statement.

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

Sugiyama expressed grave concern and stressed that China should not stem the tide for improving Japan-China relations.

In 2004, the government ordered an SDF maritime security operation after a Chinese nuclear submarine intruded into Japanese waters around the Saki-shima island chain, southern Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Defense did not immediately clarify if the Chinese frigate, which was a Type 054A Jiangkai-II-class frigate, belonged to the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) or the China Coast Guard, which uses the Type 054A as well.

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