TOKYO — Japan has carried out its first submarine drill in the South China Sea, local media said on Monday, a move that could provoke Beijing which claims most of the disputed waters.
The anti-submarine drill was conducted on Thursday in the South China Sea to “improve strategic techniques”, the defense ministry said in a short statement.
A spokesman declined to comment further or say whether it was the first such exercise there.
Earlier in the day, the Asahi Shimbun said the submarine Kuroshio joined three Japanese warships in waters just southwest of the China-controlled Scarborough Shoal.
China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually, despite competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Tensions have been high over the Scarborough Shoal since Beijing seized it from Manila in 2012.
The newspaper said the one-day submarine exercises were Tokyo’s first in the South China Sea. AFP