National:Chinese officers told Japan about expanded air defense zone in 2010
The minutes of an informal meeting between Japanese and Chinese government officials held on May 14-15, 2010, is pictured on Dec. 31, 2013. (Mainichi)
Senior officers in the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) informed Japanese government officials of China's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture all the way back in 2010, according to secret documents obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun.
According to the documents -- the minutes of an informal meeting between the PLA officers and Japanese government officials at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies in Beijing on May 14-15, 2010 -- China had already established the ADIZ but had yet to make it public. Furthermore, the zone presented to the Japanese officials is almost identical to that declared by the Chinese government in November 2013. The revelations indicate that China had been doing the groundwork for the declaration of the ADIZ for at least three and a half years before its official announcement.
The minutes show that a Chinese navy commodore with the PLA's naval warfare research institute not only revealed the existence of the ADIZ, but also stated that it roughly matched what China claimed as its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf -- one way to define a nation's ocean borders. The commodore clearly explained that the Senkakus were inside this zone.
The PLAN commodore furthermore stated that the Chinese and Japanese ADIZ "overlap by about 100 nautical miles," or 185 kilometers, and suggested the Chinese air force and Japan's Air Self-Defense Force work out rules to prevent accidental clashes in the overlapping airspace.
According to the minutes, a brigadier general with the PLA's Academy of Military Science -- China's highest-level military research institute -- also asked the Japanese officials, "What shall we do about China's and Japan's overlapping ADIZ?" and made the same proposal as the commodore.
The inclusion of the Senkakus in China's ADIZ could very well force Japan off its standard position on the Senkaku Island issue, namely that there is no territorial dispute. As such, a Japanese Defense Ministry official at the meeting told the Chinese officers, "China has not announced this ADIZ to the international community, so it's impossible to say where our air defense zones overlap. As such, I cannot make any further comment."
In May 2009, a year before the Beijing meeting, China submitted a tentative application to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend China's continental shelf beyond the standard 200 nautical miles (about 370 kilometers) from its coastline. China submitted a formal application in December 2012, which if granted would recognize Chinese suzerainty over a stretch of ocean corresponding roughly to the extent of its ADIZ.
In response to this series of moves, Japan's Self-Defense Forces have stepped up surveillance activities in the area. Japan was furthermore aware that the PLA National Defense University and National University of Defense Technology -- which formulate China's defense policy with regards to Japan -- began final preparations in early 2013 for the announcement of the ADIZ.
The informal May 2010 announcement was titled the "Japan-China security issue investigation conference." The Japanese delegation was headed by former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara and included then prime ministerial aide Satoshi Arai and a number of former administrative vice ministers. Civil servants with the foreign and defense ministries participated in the discussions as "observers."
The Chinese group was led by former vice foreign minister Wang Yingfan, and included officers from the PLA National Defense University and National University of Defense Technology, among other military institutions.