smh.com.au / John Garnaut / February 6, 2013 – 2:38AM
Chinese warships have pointed missile radars at Japanese military targets and taken the two regional powers to the brink of “a dangerous situation”, say Japanese officials.
The news overnight marks a dangerous escalation of a four-month diplomatic and military stand-off between Australia’s two largest trading partners, involving disputed islets in the East China Sea.
Japan’s defence minister, Itsunori Onodera, told reporters last night that a Chinese frigate pointed a missile control radar at the Japanese destroyer Yuudachi on January 30.
“Something like fire-control radar was directed at a Japan Self-Defense Maritime escort ship in the East China Sea,” Mr Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.
He also said a Chinese vessel had similarly targeted a Japanese ship-based helicopter two weeks earlier.
“This is extremely abnormal behaviour,” Mr Onodera said.
“One step in the wrong direction could have pushed things into a dangerous situation,” he said.
China last night sidestepped the specific Japanese allegations while urging calm.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman urged Japan “to stop all provocative actions” including sending vessels and planes to the Diaoyu Islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese.