Over the weekend, Japan detected a submarine off a southern Japanese island. Defense officials believe it is a Chinese vessel. They are raising caution levels in the East China Sea—as China increases its military activities in the same area.
The secretive submarine remained submerged. But a Chinese guided missile destroyer is nearby. That helped ministry personnel to conclude that the mysterious submarine is Chinese.
The submarine moved northwest off the eastern coast of Amami Oshima Island. The island lies about 420 miles northeast of the disputed East China Sea islands. Japan controls the islands, but Beijing claims them for China as well.
Nations have always defended their lands. And many nations throughout history have also sought to take others’ land for their own. The Bible records many disputes over boundaries, landmarks, and territories. History books chronicle myriad wars to claim and reclaim land. Christians rest assured that no matter world events, God holds the whole world in His hands: “In His hand are the depths of the Earth; the heights of the mountains are His also.” (Psalm 95:4)
Neither the submarine nor the destroyer entered Japanese territorial water. But they were mighty close. Under international law, submarines passing off the coast of another country are required to surface and show a national flag inside territorial waters. The mystery boat did neither.
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force quickly sent three scouting aircraft and two destroyers to the area. The vessels were meant as an early warning to the intruders. They also went to gather information. Japan is keen to analyze China’s intentions.
This isn’t the first time Chinese vessels have ventured close to Japanese territory. A submarine believed to be Chinese also was spotted in the area in June 2020.
China defends its maritime activities. Its officials claim the country has the right to defend its sovereignty, security, and development interests.
Japan, on the other hand, is alarmed by China’s growing naval activities in the East and South China seas. The Japanese military is stepping up defense in the country’s southwestern regions and northern islands.
Tokyo says it opposes China’s attempts to change the current situation in the region. Japan regularly protests the Chinese coast guard’s growing presence near the disputed islands. Japanese officials say Chinese vessels routinely violate Japanese territorial waters around the islands, sometimes threatening fishing boats.
Meanwhile, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi’s staff plans to “gather information and maintain vigilant surveillance with a sense of urgency.”
(This photo shows the exterior of Japan’s defense ministry in Tokyo on August 19, 2021. Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Kyodo News via AP)