Uncrewed surveillance balloons violating Japan’s airspace are absolutely unacceptable, the Japanese government said on Wednesday.
A further investigation of specific balloon-shaped flying objects confirmed in Japan’s airspace in the past has led to the strong suspicion that they were Chinese unmanned surveillance balloons, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
According to the Kyodo news agency, Japan is considering relaxing restrictions on the use of weapons to defend its airspace. Currently, weapons can only be used in clear and present danger.
The former defense minister and ruling party security policy chief Itsunori Onodera said this case raises concerns about Japan’s defense.
Earlier this week, the Japanese Ministry of Defence stated that it “strongly suspects” that Chinese surveillance balloons crossed into Japanese territory at least three times since 2019.
“We have concluded that the balloon-shaped flying objects previously observed in Japanese airspace, including those in November 2019, June 2020, and September 2021, are highly likely to be unmanned reconnaissance balloons flown by China,” the defense ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.
A statement said it had “strongly demanded that China confirm the facts” of the incident, as well as “that such an incident does not occur again.”
Foreign unmanned reconnaissance balloons and other means of violating airspace are unacceptable, it said.
A Chinese spy balloon shot down by the United States after crossing US territory prompted Japan to re-analyze a series of incidents involving unidentified aerial objects.
As a result of the incident, the US military adjusted radar settings to detect smaller objects and discovered three more unidentified craft that President Biden ordered shot down – one over Alaska, one over Canada, and the third over Lake Huron off Michigan.