07:14 GMT +322 October 2018
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    Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces diesel-electric submarine Soryu. (File)

    Japanese Submarine Taking Part in S China Drills for 1st Time - Defense Ministry

    © REUTERS / Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force/Handout via Reuters/Files
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    TOKYO (Sputnik) - A submarine from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is engaged in the drills in the South China Sea for the first time, the Japanese Defense Ministry said in a statement.

    According to the ministry, the JDS Kuroshio, with a full crew of 80, will arrive in the area where the exercise is being staged accompanied by three Izumo-class Japanese helicopter destroyers by September 21.

    In August, Japan said in its white book on defense that China had been undertaking extensive efforts to enhance its military capabilities and expanding the area of its aerial and maritime military operations, particularly in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in turn, called Japan's claims about China's military buildup groundless and irresponsible.

    READ MORE: Chinese-Russian Defense Drills Illustrate Growing Alliance — Analyst

    Tokyo and Beijing have long been involved in a territorial dispute over the disputed Senkaku Islands, referred to by China as the Diaoyu Islands, which are located near important shipping routes and potentially large oil and gas fields.

    Japan claims it has possessed the islands since 1895, while Beijing recalls that Japanese maps made in 1783 and 1785 pictured the islands as belonging to China. After World War II, the islands were controlled by the United States until Washington returned them to Japan in 1972. Taiwan and mainland China still believe that Tokyo maintains control over the islands illegally.

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    military drills, submarine, South China Sea, Japan
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