By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA - Japan has alleged that its destroyers were targets of Chinese military aircraft during a recent military drill in East China Sea, according to a local media report on Monday.
Tokyo viewed the Chinese military drill held in May as "an extremely dangerous military activity" that could have developed into a contingency, the Kyodo news agency reported citing government sources.
During the drill, several Chinese JH-7 fighter bombers "approached Japan’s two Maritime Self-Defense Force [MSDF] destroyers that were within striking distance of anti-ship missiles," it added.
"The crews of the Japanese vessels were not able to determine the intention of the Chinese pilots, who did not lock on guided missile radar," the report said.
Tokyo, on the other hand, did not lodge any complaint or a protest with Beijing over the issue.
"It [Japan] does not wish to reveal its intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities," it said.
The Japanese claims came after units of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces decoded the "intercepted communications between the Chinese aircrafts in which the pilots said they would conduct a drill using the MSDF vessels as mock targets", said the report.
The tensions persist in the East China Sea although the leaders of the two countries this June agreed to boost bilateral ties and pledged to open a "new era" in their relations with further work based on a 2008 bilateral accord on joint gas development in the region.
The project was stalled after a Chinese fishing vessel and a Japanese patrol ship collided in 2010 off the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands that are claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu.