Japan warns Beijing of airspace violation and considers strengthening defense

Japan warned China on Wednesday (15) that any violation of its airspace by spy balloons is unacceptable. The Defense Ministry said a new analysis of unidentified flying objects in Japanese skies in recent years “strongly suggests” that they could be Chinese spy balloons.

(RFI) Frédéric Charles

The Defense Ministry estimates that on at least three occasions since 2019, unidentified flying objects have passed over Japan. The case of the Chinese spy balloon shot down by the United States has led Tokyo to reassess the nature of these flying objects. which has led the Defense Ministry to assume that they are unmanned reconnaissance balloons sent by China.

The Japanese government is now asking China to confirm these facts and “that such a situation should not happen again in the future.” In January 2022, government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno revealed, an unidentified balloon flew over the sea west of Kyushu Island. Further south, the island of Okinawa is home to most American bases on Japanese soil.

Close to Taiwan, the bases on Okinawa are used to monitor China and North Korea. Chinese ships, submarines, and reconnaissance planes are spotted at regular intervals off the island. Japan plans to use missiles to protect its airspace against invasions by spy balloons in cooperation with its American ally.
Defense Gap?

Japanese media reported Wednesday that the government is examining the possibility of relaxing the rules for shooting down objects that violate the country’s airspace. Currently, the law allows the use of weapons only in case of a direct and immediate threat, Kyodo news agency reported.

“This case raises the concern that there may be a big gap in Japan’s defense system,” Itsunori Onodera, secretary for security policy of the ruling party and former defense minister, said.

Japan said last week that it would re-examine a series of incidents involving unidentified flying objects after a Chinese spy balloon was shot down by the United States after entering its territory.

After the incident, the US military adjusted its radars to detect smaller objects and discovered three other unidentified devices, which were also shot down.

(With AFP) *** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***

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