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Japan protests to China over submarine near disputed…

13 January 2018

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.

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 submarine was first detected on Thursday in waters contiguous to Japan's territory around the islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, but was finally identified on Friday, the Defence Ministry said, a day after Japan lodged a protest with China over the presence of a frigate in the same area.

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Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe say it's a fresh start for China and Japan.

Vice Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua on Thursday to express his grave concern regarding the issue and protest the frigate's entry into the area, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

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

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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. It left Thursday afternoon. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga warned China "not to undermine the trend of improvement in Japan-China relations".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to the incidents Thursday by giving instructions to prepare for all possible contingencies and to coordinate closely with the USA, according to a statement released by his Cabinet.

Chinese officials defended the move Thursday, saying that the Senkakus are China's territory and that the incident was instigated by two Japanese navy vessels. Both vessels sailed out of the zone in the afternoon, without reaching the Japanese territorial waters. A Chinese frigate was last seen in the contiguous zone in June 2016.

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"The measures by the Japanese side will not change the established fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China, nor will it change China's resolution to safeguard its territory in the Diaoyu Islands", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a regular press briefing on Thursday.

Japan protests to China over submarine near disputed…