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Japan detects suspected Chinese submarine near southern island

Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on 12 September that it detected a submarine believed to belong to China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) navigating in the contiguous zone east of the island of Amami Oshima in southern Japan's Kagoshima Prefecture on the morning of 10 September.

The MoD said in a statement that, although the submarine remained submerged, it believes that the boat is Chinese because a PLAN Luyang III (Type 052D)-class guided-missile destroyer was spotted navigating near the submarine.

The island of Amami Oshima is located about 630 km northeast of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan. The MoD said the submarine was moving in a northwesterly direction off the eastern coast of the island, but that neither the submarine nor the ship entered Japanese territorial waters.

This marks the first time since June 2020 that the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has publicly highlighted the presence of a PLAN submarine in waters off the island.

Under international law, submarines navigating within the territorial waters of another country have to surface and display their national flag. However, there is no requirement to do so when navigating through contiguous zones.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, who was visiting Vietnam at the time, instructed MoD staff to collect information about the submarine in question. To this end the JMSDF despatched two Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), a P-3C Orion MPA, and two destroyers.

Chinese state-owned media reacted by accusing Tokyo of “making a publicity stunt by hyping the recent activities of a submarine it speculates is from China”.

The Global Times

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