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Ministry of National Defense Demands Japan 'Apologize For Its Threatening Flight Toward Republic of Korean Destroyer, and Stop Distort...


The ministry lodges a strong complaint against Japan; “Japan’s claim in radar dispute is false”



The Ministry of National Defense has released a video clip highlighting the reason for its strong complaint regarding a Japanese patrol plane’s threatening low-altitude flight toward our Navy’s Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer (DDH) and coast guard vessels, which had been engaged in a humanitarian rescue operation in the international waters of the East Sea. 

On January 4th, the ministry released a video saying that Republic of Korean Navy’s Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer did not direct its fire-control radar (STIR) at the Japanese patrol plane. “Japan should apologize for interfering with a humanitarian rescue operation conducted by the Republic of Korean destroyer and immediately stop distorting the truth,’ the ministry said in the video.

“We are releasing this video clip to provide an accurate report of the incident, because a distorted report has been disseminated to Internet users around the world through the video that Japan unilaterally posted, both in Japanese and English versions,” said Choi Hyun-soo, spokesperson for the ministry. “We once again stress that Japan must stop warping the facts and apologize for carrying out a low-altitude flight toward our destroyer, which was on a humanitarian rescue operation,” Choi said, raising her voice.


Later in the day, the ministry released a video clip with English subtitles, in addition to one with Korean subtitles. “We plan to release more versions in different languages," Choi added.  

The video released by the ministry was produced by editing a clip of the Coast Guard 5001 vessel on a rescue operation and a clip shot by Japan’s P-1 patrol plane at the time when the incident happened, around 3PM on December 20th.


“While our Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer was carrying out a humanitarian rescue operation on a vessel in distress, a Japanese patrol aircraft approached the destroyer at a low altitude,” the ministry said. “Why did the Japanese patrol aircraft fly at a threateningly low altitude at the scene of a humanitarian rescue operation?” the ministry also asked. 

According to the video, the Japanese patrol aircraft approached the destroyer within 500 meters, and flew approximately 150 meters above the destroyer. “This posed a threat to the crew of the destroyer, as it made so much noise and was shaking,” the ministry said.


The ministry then debunked the clip of the Japanese patrol aircraft that showed that it was aware of the rescue mission.


“The Japanese plane continued its inappropriate reconnaissance and created a serious threat by interfering in the humanitarian mission being carried out by the Republic of Korean destroyer,” the ministry spokesperson said, stressing that an armed warplane should not fly threateningly at a low altitude near another nation’s ship, as an accidental collision could occur between the two sides.


On Japan’s claim that it followed international law, the video claims that Japan intentionally distorted such law. Japan cited the Convention on International Civil Aviation and the enforcement regulations of the Japanese Aviation Law as the basis of the plane’s compliance with the international aviation law.


“Even though the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s Convention on International Civil Aviation Annexes 2 to 4 provide that visual flight shall be prohibited at an altitude lower than 150 meters, it clearly stipulates that this provision is a general flight rule for the flight and safety of civil aircraft, and does not apply to military aircraft,” the ministry said. 

The ministry also clarified that the Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer operated only a search radar to rescue a vessel in distress, and never directed its STIR at the Japanese patrol aircraft.


“Despite Japan’s claim that it had detected radar frequency, the video released by Japan showed that the Japanese patrol aircraft was still flying around above the Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer. While flying at a low altitude, it confirmed that the guns of the Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer did not target it and had no intent to attack it,” the ministry said. “If the Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer targeted the patrol aircraft, it should have immediately performed evasive maneuvers. Instead, it approached the destroyer again, something that is not understandable,” the ministry added.  

The video also included the sound of actual communication from the Japanese side. According to the sound, the Japanese patrol aircraft was talking about the Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer, but only ‘Korea’ was intelligible due to noises.


“The Japanese communication was unintelligible to the Gwanggaeto The Great destroyer. Besides, it was only attempted after the Japanese patrol aircraft was relatively distant from the rescue operation area,” the ministry explained.  

“Our Navy did not engage in any threatening acts against the maritime patrol aircraft of the partner country. If there is any STIR-related evidence (radar frequency data) that supports Japan’s claim against our destroyer, it should be presented at the working-level talks between the two countries,” the ministry said, stressing that Japan must apologize for its threatening low-altitude flight toward our destroyer that was on a humanitarian rescue mission.


However, the ministry has not given up its efforts to unravel the issue. The ministry reaffirmed that it will follow the existing policy to narrow the differences over the incident and resolve the issue via working-level talks. 


In a phone conversation on Friday, the Minister of Foreign Ministry Kang Kyung-hwa and Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono also agreed that the defense authorities of the two countries should meet to work out the issue.



By Su-Yeol, Maeng < >

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