The government will not disclose its evidence of China’s recent locking of weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese warship because doing so would tip its hand on intelligence operations, official sources said Monday.
The Liberal Democratic Party-led government had considered disclosure after Beijing denied Japan’s accusations that a Chinese frigate aimed its weapons radar at a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer on Jan. 30 near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea at the heart of a bilateral dispute.
Disclosure poses “great risk in terms of defense as it would mean that Chinese military authorities would be looking at the MSDF’s secrets concerning information-gathering operations,” a senior Defense Ministry official said.
A government source also said such disclosure would “difficult” as the evidence data touch on the “subtleties” of Japanese security.
They added that Washington’s expression of support for Tokyo’s allegation has also prompted Japan not to disclose the evidence.
The government will not officially announce its nondisclosure of the evidence, however, in a bid to maintain pressure on China, the sources said.
Japan has frequency analysis data of radio waves the MSDF warship received from the Chinese ship, photos and footage at the time of the occurrence, according to a Defense Ministry source.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has accused Japan of “spreading false information” by alleging weapons-targeting radar was directed toward the MSDF ship. It has argued the Chinese frigate used monitoring radar and not fire-control radar.
Tokyo also said a Chinese naval ship was suspected of having directed fire-control radar at an MSDF helicopter on Jan. 19 as the chopper was flying over the East China Sea.
Japan will continue to closely monitor Chinese vessels and military jets near the islets, while at the same time keep calling on Beijing to soon engage in a bilateral maritime safety mechanism to avoid an accidental clash.
Political sources said the international community may view Japan’s decision not to reveal the evidence as a failure to produce an effective argument against China’s denial.
The radar issue has come as bilateral ties have dropped to the lowest level in years over conflicting sovereignty claims to the Senkaku, which are called Diaoyu in China.
Ties worsened in particular after Japan effectively nationalized the uninhabited chain by purchasing three of the five islands from a private Japanese owner in September.
The purchase was intended by the government then led by the Democratic Party of Japan to “stably maintain” the islets, but it sparked a fierce backlash in China.