Japan lodged a formal protest with Beijing Friday after
determining that a nuclear submarine that entered its
territorial waters without identifying itself belonged
to China. Japan's navy has been on alert since
Wednesday, when the submarine was first spotted off
Japan's southern island of Okinawa.
Tokyo had sent reconnaissance aircraft and naval
destroyers to shadow the submarine, which had spent
about two hours inside Japanese waters before heading
north. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura summoned
Chinese envoy Cheng Yong-hua to formally protest the
incursion and demand an explanation, a ministry
spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.
Cheng said Chinese authorities were investigating the
incident and that he would report the protest to
Beijing, the spokesman said. Kyodo News Agency quoted
Cheng as saying he couldn't offer an immediate apology.
"It is extremely regrettable," Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi told reporters later Friday. "In order to
prevent a recurrence, we must know why this happened and
we are awaiting a response from the Chinese. "
Earlier, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said
Tokyo had concluded that it was a Chinese nuclear
submarine after considering a range of factors,
including the fact that the vessel appeared to be
heading toward China.
This submarine may be China's Type 093 nuclear-powered
attack submarine (SSN) conducting its first operational
patrol. China has only two nuclear-powered submarines,
of which only one - the Han SSN, has gotten underway
over the last five years. However, the follow-on to the
Han, the Type 093 SSN should have completed sea trials
by now. Built with Russian assistance, the Type 093
reportedly has the same performance characteristics as
the Soviet-era Victor III SSN which entered service in
1978. It reportedly is equipped with the Skhval 200
rocket-powered torpedoes, the SS-N-16 anti-submarine
warfare (ASW) missiles and the submarine-launched
follow-on to the C-801. The Type 093 is expected to be
quieter, safer and have better sensors than the
Han-class. The Chinese reportedly plan to build five
Type 093 by 2010.