China on Thursday fired five missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The country’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi said that this is “a serious problem that affects our national security and the safety of our citizens”.
Kishi said Japan protested the missile landings to China as “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people.” The missiles landed off Hateruma, an outer island quite far from the main islands of Japan, he said.
The drills were prompted by a visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week and are intended to advertise China’s threat to attack the self-governing island republic. Along with its moves to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, China has long threatened military retaliation over moves by the island to solidify its de facto independence with the support of key allies including the U.S.
China fired long-range explosive projectiles, the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army, the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, said in a statement. It also said it carried out multiple conventional missile launches in three different areas in the eastern waters of Taiwan. An accompanying graphic on state broadcaster CCTV showed those that occurred in the north, east, and south.
“All missiles hit the target accurately,” the Eastern Theater said in its announcement. No further details were given. Earlier during the day, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said its forces were on alert and monitoring the situation while seeking to avoid escalating tensions. Civil defence drills were held last week and notices were placed on designated air raid shelters months ago.
China’s “irrational behaviour” intends to alter the status quo and disrupt regional peace and stability, the ministry said.
“The three service branches will combine efforts with all the people to jointly safeguard national security and territorial integrity” while adapting to the situation as it develops, the statement said.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported the exercises were joint operations focused on “blockade, sea target assault, strike on ground targets, and airspace control.”