S. Korea condemns Japanese patrol plane’s ‘provocative’ close-range flight

Jan 24, 2019, 09:23 am

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Suh Wook, chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a press conference at the defense ministry in Seoul on Jan. 23, 2019./ Source: Yonhap

AsiaToday reporter Jo Jae-hyung 

The Defense Ministry on Wednesday strongly condemned a Japanese patrol plane’s low-altitude flight close to a South Korean battleship near Ieodo, calling it “threatening.”

It was also confirmed that Japan made provocative flights toward South Korean warships on January 18 and 22. 

The Defense Ministry held an emergency press conference on the same day and issued a statement regarding the Japanese patrol plane’s close-range threatening flight. 

“At 2:03 p.m., a Japanese patrol plane flew close to the South Korean navy vessel as low as 60-70 meters as close as 540 meters near Ieodo at about 2:03 p.m. local time, even after the plane determined the vessel’s identity,” said Suh Wook, chief director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It was a clear provocation.”

The South Korean destroyer was found to be DDH-II Daejoyeong and the Japanese patrol plane was P-3. 

“Regarding Japan’s low-altitude close-range flight on December 20, 2018, South Korea has been making a restrained response with patience,” Suh said. “On the other hand, Japan made threatening close-range flights toward South Korean warships on January 18 and 22.”

“Despite our firm request to the Japanese government to ensure that (such flights) don’t recur, the threatening low-altitude flight conducted today is a clear provocation against the naval vessel of a friendly country,” Suh said. 

“We cannot help but doubt Japan’s intentions and strongly condemn it,” he said.

“If such activity repeats again, our military will strongly respond based on our response rules,” he added.

A military official told reporters that Japan’s threatening close-range flights on January 18 and 22 were conducted within 1 to 2 miles of the South Korean navy vessels, at an altitude of 30 to 60 meters, and the type of the flights was ambiguous. 

“As the Japanese patrol plane approached our vessel, we gave a warning and tried to communicate that we might take self-defense action, but the Japanese plane did not respond and lingered in the area,” the official said. 

The Korean Navy later contacted the Japanese authorities through a hotline to lodge a protest and call for the prevention of any recurrence, but the Japanese side has reportedly demanded South Korea retract its statement. 

The Defense Ministry called in a defense official from Japan’s embassy to lodge a protest. On December 20, Japan conducted a threatening low-altitude flight in the vicinity of a South Korean naval vessel Gwanggaeto-daewang, causing a stir. 

#Defense ministry #Japanese patrol plane #Joint Chiefs of Staff #close-range flight #Suh Wook 
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