Japan not to disclose evidence of China radar target-lock on MSDF assets


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.

  • chinditone

    The problem for Japan over this is that it seems to prove to the outside world that Japan is an unreliable and perpetual liar who cannot be taken seriously – just as China has said.The very claim that Japan owns the Senkaku’s/Diaoyou Islands are seen as one big lie. Japan and the US need to honour the WW2 Potsdam Treaty and hand the islands back to China/Taiwan – and restore their relationship. Japan’s post WW2 success has been built as a Trading/Manufacturing nation – and Japan’s success with China is based on its being a Trading/Manufacturing nation. Japan needs to stop being sidetracked and get back to what its best at – manufacturing and trading

  • Julius Marold

    The detection of a locked on fire control radar is a simple procedure. As a former US Navy EW (Electronic Warfare) operator and Electronic Technician, I could accomplish this with a commercially available spectrum analyzer and a metal coat hanger for an antenna. Then, a screen capture or photo would provide all the details necessary to prove radar lock on (including that the radar was in fact a Chinese unit). While Japanese and American ships carry much more sophisticated EW units, it should be obvious that a locked on fire control radar is “illuminating a target”. Illuminating a potential target such as a ship or aircraft is considered an act of war. Even in the darkest days of the cold war, US and Soviet ships refrained from locking radar on each other. The potential result of doing something like this was too horrible to consider.
    It happened. The Chinese, Japanese, and the rest of the world knows it happened. By denying it, the Chinese government aggravates the situation. They should instead simply say “yes, it happened. We’ll take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again”. End of problem.

  • bridgebuilder78

    Oh gee, you made such a big fuss about disclosing the evidence…

  • chinditone

    Lack of proof makes Japan look like a deliberate liar and makes people doubt the Japanese claim to the Senkaku’s/Diaoyou’s.

  • bridgebuilder78

    Oh Gee, you make a big fuss about the release, and now this? Release the data, that is, if you really have it.