Unidentified submarine spotted near Okinawa

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Japan’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that a submerged submarine has been spotted near Okinawa, but won’t say whose it is.

Japan’s Defense Ministry confirms a submerged submarine was spotted near Okinawa several days ago, but won’t spill details on whose country it comes from.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera says he knows what country the sub belongs to, and will tell that country to stop encroachments on Japanese territory.  At the same time, he refused to identify the country, saying “we will convey to them that we are fully aware of the sub’s identification, and urge restraint.”  An unidentified government source says, however, the submarine belongs to China.

“We need to share information among Japan, the United States and South Korea,” says Onodera, referring to the submarine’s discovery by a P-3C patrol aircraft belonging to the Maritime Self-Defense Force.  The plane detected the submarine in Japan’s contiguous zone south of Minamidaito Island.  Officials say the unidentified submarine did not enter Japanese waters.

In terms of international law, there are no restrictions on sailing through Japan’s contiguous zone, which is outside territorial waters.  However, the international rules stipulate that vessels of other countries passing through territorial waters of another country should fly their national flags, and submarines are to sail on the surface.

Japan’s forces were on a higher level of alert after another suspected Chinese Navy submarine sailed submerged in the contiguous zone around Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture on May 2nd, and yet another incident, also believed to involve the Chinese, happened on May 12th in the contiguous zone around Kumejima in Okinawa.

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