Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday that a foreign submarine that headed west underwater in a contiguous zone around the southwestern Japan island of Amami Oshima on Thursday is presumed to belong to China.
It is unusual for the Japanese government to release information about the nationality, type or movements of a specific submarine as such revelation involves the Self-Defense Forces' detection and tracking capability.
"We concluded that we should reveal the nationality of the submarine in light of various circumstances, including on the Senkaku Islands," Kono told a press conference, referring to the Japanese-administrated East China Sea islands, claimed by China.
While offering the view that there is no problem with a submarine cruising underwater in a contiguous zone, Kono said the Japanese Foreign Ministry has informed China that Tokyo is paying attention to the matter. "We need to examine China's intent clearly," he said.
After being spotted off Amami Oshima, part of Kagoshima Prefecture, the submarine was confirmed to have traveled west outside a contiguous zone west of the island of Yokoate, also in Kagoshima.
The submarine sailed toward China later, according to Kono.