Japan detects a suspicious Chinese submarine near a southern island


Tokyo (AP) —Japan has found a suspected Chinese submarine on an island in southern Japan, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday, raising Japan’s alert level in the East China Sea as China increased its military activity.

The submarine remained submerged, but the ministry said in a statement that the submarine was Chinese because China’s Luyan III guided-missile destroyer was near the submarine.

The submarine traveled northwest off the east coast of Amami Oshima, about 700 kilometers (420 miles) northeast of the conflicting East China Sea islands that Japan controls but Beijing claims, the ministry said.

The submarine on Sunday morning was heading west through the East China Sea.

Neither submarines nor ships entered the Japanese territorial waters. International law requires submarines that pass along the coasts of other countries to surface in their territorial waters and display their national flags.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has dispatched three reconnaissance aircraft and two destroyers to the area for early warning and intelligence gathering to analyze China’s intentions.

A submarine, believed to be Chinese, was also discovered in the area in June 2020.

China defends maritime activities and states that it has the right to defend sovereignty, security and development interests.

Japan, which has warned of expanding naval activity in China’s East China Sea and South China Sea, is strengthening its defenses in the southwestern and islands of the country north of the conflicting islands.

Tokyo said it opposed China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the region and regularly protested the growing presence of the China Coast Guard near the conflicting islands. Japanese officials say Chinese vessels routinely invade Japan’s territorial waters around the island, sometimes threatening fishing vessels.