Japan Hunts Mystery Submarine Intruder

An unidentified entered deep into Japanese territory yesterday. Japan’s navy tracked the vessel for two hours, then lost it. From The Sydney Morning Herald:

The Naval vessel Atago spotted the submarine in Japanese waters at 6.56am (0756 AEST) but the craft did not raise a national flag or surface, breaching international laws, a defence ministry spokesman said.

Atago, an Aegis-equipped warship, chased the submarine off the coast of Kochi prefecture in western Japan, facing the Pacific Ocean, until about 8.40am (0940 AEST) , he said.

“We have not identified the nationality of the submarine and we are still searching for it,” the spokesman said.

Using sonar, Atago confirmed that the submarine does not belong to the Japanese navy nor its ally the US Navy, he said.

“We will make a protest against the country through a diplomatic route” once Japan identifies the nationality of the submarine, Defence Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, according to Jiji Press.

Here is a map of where the incident occurred from MSN Encarta

More on the story from Japan Today here.

Both reports note that the last time a similar incident occurred was in November 2004, when a Chinese nuclear submarine entered Japanese waters. Beijing apologized for the intrusion a week later. Read “The Potential Deterioration of Sino-Japanese Relations,” (Dec. 2004) from Power and Interest News Report, which mentions the potential for similar Chinese sub incursions into Japanese waters in the future:

Tensions in the East China Sea were raised again on November 10 when Japanese microphone-carrying buoys detected a Chinese submarine in Japan’s territorial waters. Tokyo scrambled military planes and warships to track the submarine, but the Chinese submarine had left Japan’s territory before it could be intercepted. Japan claimed that China apologized for what it said was a technical problem that caused the submarine to veer off course, but the incident showed the progress that Japan has made in rebuilding its military defense capabilities since the end of World War II. Similar conflicts may arise in the future as China expands its submarine force, which at 50 to 80 nuclear and non-nuclear submarines will rival the U.S.’ all nuclear fleet by the end of the decade and far outweighs Japan’s 18 non-nuclear submarines.

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