Chinese vessel locks radar lock on Japanese ship

The escalating tensions in the Senkaku group of islands in the East China Sea in southwestern Okinawa ratcheted another notch as a Chinese Navy frigate locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force vessel.

The move has been described by Japan’s Defense Minister as “dangerous” as it’s the first the time two navies have locked radar in a dispute.  The incident January 30th, says Itsunori Onodera, had “something like fire-control radar directed at a Japan Self Defense Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea.  The defense ministry confirms radar for targeting was used.”

Earlier in the month, a Japanese military helicopter was locked on by similar radar, says the Defense Minster.  No word on whether that incident happened while the chopper was airborne or on the deck of a ship.  Both incidents lasted “minutes”, he said.  “Directing such radar is very abnormal.  We recognize it could create a very dangerous situation if a single misstep occurred, and we will seek the Chinese side’s self-restraint from taking such dangerous actions.”

The radar trackings have not been previously reported, although it’s known there has been shadowing of aircraft and vessels by Chinese jets and ships.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a visit to Okinawa several weeks ago, vowed to defend Japan against “provocations”.  In the aftermath of that visit, and earlier reports, Japan’s Coast Guard says it is now creating a special unit over the coming several years that will be serving with ten new patrol boats, two helicopter carriers, and a force of 600 sailors.