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2013年5月24日 (金)

中国潜水艦潜航 海自の警戒能力向上が急務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun May 24, 2013
Reinforcing MSDF's antisub patrol capability urgent task
中国潜水艦潜航 海自の警戒能力向上が急務だ(5月23日付・読売社説)

We would like to ask China to refrain from taking any more actions that would unnecessarily heighten Japan-China military tensions, even if they do not violate international laws.

A series of incidents have taken place this month in which submarines believed to belong to the Chinese Navy conducted submerged passages in the contiguous zone near the Nansei Islands. Japan confirmed a passage on May 2 off Amami-Oshima island, Kagoshima Prefecture, and another off Kumejima island, Okinawa Prefecture, on May 12-13. The Defense Ministry has announced the incidents without identifying the country to which the submarines belong.

It was an unusual response to such incidents, since revealing the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s submarine detection capability violates common sense from a military viewpoint. We believe the Japanese government was trying to send a warning to China.

However, it was revealed that a third submerged navigation incident took place off Minami-Daitojima island, Okinawa Prefecture, last Sunday. The warning proved to be ineffective.

International law requires submarines to remain on the surface when operating in territorial waters of other countries. But they are allowed to submerge when operating in contiguous zones. If a submarine of another nation enters Japan’s territorial waters while submerged, the Japanese government will order the MSDF to conduct maritime policing activity, as such an action constitutes an emergency.

Since Japan’s nationalization of three of the Senkaku Islands in September last year, official Chinese vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters. Chinese Navy vessels even locked weapons-guiding radar on an MSDF helicopter and a destroyer.

Aiming at maritime power

China’s intermediate- and long-term objectives are to become a “great maritime power” and expand its territories and maritime interests. It intends to do this by expanding the Chinese Navy’s maritime activity area to the western Pacific, which lies outside its “first island chain” perimeter linking Okinawa Prefecture, Taiwan and other major archipelagoes.

The submerged passage incidents this month are believed to be part of its “anti-access/area denial (A2/AD)” strategy, under which China aims to prevent U.S. military deployment, including aircraft carriers, inside the first island chain. They are also considered to be related to China’s provocative actions around the Senkaku Islands.

China’s self-righteous expansionism has invited negative reactions from the international community. Consequently, the philosophy has not benefitted the country. China must seriously grasp the reality and coolheadedly review its strategy.

And Japan must urgently beef up further patrol and surveillance activities against Chinese submarines by the MSDF’s P-3C Orion patrol aircraft and submarines.

The MSDF plans to gradually replace the aging P-3Cs to new P-1 anti-sub patrol aircraft and increase its submarine fleet from the current 16 to 22 in the near future.

Beef up quality, quantity

Taking into consideration the Chinese Navy’s rapid equipment buildup and modernization, as well as its excessive provocations against Japan, the priority in the new National Defense Program Guidelines to be compiled at the year’s end must be to reinforce MSDF and Air Self-Defense Force equipment and personnel in both quality and quantity.

Furthermore, the Defense Ministry must advance its schedule for introducing the Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned reconnaissance drone.

Joint Japan-U.S. patrol and surveillance activities using the drone will lessen burdens on the MSDF and ASDF, which are operating at full capacity around the Nansei Islands. Such activities will also improve the SDF capabilities for high-level duties, including the detection of submarines.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 23, 2013)
(2013年5月23日01時14分  読売新聞)


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