Video exacerbates Japan-South Korea radar spat

In this image made from video released Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, by the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, a South Korean naval warship is seen as it allegedly locks its fire-control radar on a Japanese warplane Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in the disputed waters north of Japan. (Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force via AP)

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) – The Defense Ministry released on Dec. 28 video footage of the incident in which a South Korean Navy destroyer locked its fire-control radar onto a Maritime Self-Defense Force P-1 patrol plane on Dec. 20.

The ministry decided to make the video public to support its claims after South Korea denied that the radar had been directed at the plane.

“I want people in Japan to understand that the Maritime Self-Defense Force acted appropriately,” Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said at a press conference Friday, explaining why the footage was released.

The incident occurred in the Sea of Japan off the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.

The Defense Ministry publicly disclosed the incident on Dec. 21, prompting South Korea to deny its destroyer’s alleged use of a fire-control radar at a press conference. During a teleconference between defense officials from the two countries held Thursday, South Korea again did not confirm the facts of the incident.

The roughly 13-minute video begins with footage of the MSDF P-1 patrol plane approaching a group of vessels, including the South Korean Navy destroyer, a South Korean Coast Guard rescue vessel and a distressed ship likely to be a North Korean fishing boat. About six minutes into the video, the MSDF plane detects the use of a fire-control radar.

One of the crew members is heard saying in a tense voice, “We should steer clear,” with the pilot ordering confirmation of the direction of the destroyer’s guns.

After moving away from the vessel, a crew member listening to radar detection sounds says, “The sound is so loud,” emphasizing the strength of the radio field intensity.

Afterward, a crew member asks the destroyer questions in English such as “What is the purpose of your act?” in three different frequencies. However, the vessel did not respond.

The incident occurred near a section of the Sea of Japan called Yamatotai, which has rich fishing grounds. Large numbers of North Korean fishing boats have descended on the area to poach squid, causing problems.

An official with ties to the Japanese government noted the possibility that South Korea’s military has helped rescue North Korean fishing boats in the area and likely sought to conceal such activities from Japan.

The Japanese government has previously released footage of incidents involving foreign vessels, disclosing a video of a collision between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands of Okinawa Prefecture in 2010.

The incident, in which two JCG vessels were rammed by a Chinese trawler fishing illegally in Japanese territorial waters, occurred during the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan.

A JCG officer initially leaked footage of the incident on a video-sharing site, generating intense public interest. The Cabinet was heavily criticized for not imposing a criminal penalty on the trawler’s captain and was forced to submit video of the incident to the Diet amid intense public pressure.

By News Desk