Photo/IllutrationA P-1 patrol aircraft similar to one targeted by the fire-control radar of a South Korean destroyer (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The Defense Ministry on Jan. 21 effectively ended discussions with Seoul in their dispute over whether a South Korean Navy destroyer locked its fire-control radar on a Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol aircraft.

The ministry released what it called a “final statement” regarding the Dec. 20 incident in the Sea of Japan off the coast of the Noto Peninsula.

Among the additional information provided by the ministry was audio of what it described as an alarm sounding when the fire-control radar was locked onto the MSDF P-1 aircraft.

The ministry said South Korea “refuses to conduct an objective and neutral determination of facts based on the principle of reciprocity” and concluded that it would be “difficult to continue” with working-level discussions on the issue.

The final statement and radar audio were released on the Defense Ministry’s website in Japanese, Korean and English.

Seoul has denied the fire-control radar was locked on the P-1 aircraft.

A South Korean defense ministry official also criticized the Japanese decision to cut off further discussions, and said the audio released by the Defense Ministry was simply “mechanical noise” that provided no help in confirming the characteristics of electromagnetic radar waves.

The audio of the radar waves converted into sound lasted for 18 seconds. The sound was modified to avoid compromising the capability of the radar. Fire-control radar is normally directed at a target immediately before firing, according to the ministry.

Ministry officials said the detection sound heard by the aircraft crew and released over the Internet was evidence that the patrol aircraft had been targeted by the fire-control radar.

The ministry also released the flight route of the aircraft to rebut claims by the South Korean military that the P-1 interfered with activities of the South Korean destroyer by flying at a low altitude.

The patrol aircraft’s flight path kept it at least about 500 meters from the destroyer and at a sufficient altitude of about 150 meters.

The patrol aircraft sent radio messages inquiring why the fire-control radar was being used, but it received no response.

South Korean officials argued that the signal was not good enough for proper communications.

But the Defense Ministry said “weather conditions on site that day were sunny with very few clouds” and that “communication conditions were extremely good.”

Although the ministry said further discussions on the fire-control radar issue would be unproductive, it did stress that it would continue with defense cooperation efforts both bilaterally with South Korea as well as trilaterally involving the United States and South Korea.

(This article was written by Hirotaka Kojo in Tokyo and Hajimu Takeda in Seoul.)