Japan, China to agree on procedures for unexpected military encounters: Source

A Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force P-3C Orion patrol aircraft preparing to take off on the Philippine island of Palawan on June 24, 2015.
A Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force P-3C Orion patrol aircraft preparing to take off on the Philippine island of Palawan on June 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and China will next month conclude an agreement to define procedures for communication between their naval vessels and military aircraft during unexpected encounters to reduce the risk of confrontation, a source told Reuters.

As China's military grows and as Japan looks to expand its Self Defense Force operations beyond home waters to regions such as the South China Sea, encounters between their armed forces are on the rise.

The rules for communication will apply to encounters on the high sea and in international airspace, although China also wants to extend the agreement to cover territorial waters too, the Mainichi newspaper reported earlier. "We reached agreement on some parts in Beijing on June 19, and believe it is necessary to implement this mechanism quickly, so we will continue talking," Japan's Minister of Defence, Gen Nakatani, said at a press briefing on Friday.

While Japan considers much of the South China Sea to be international waters, China however claims much of the territory, where it is building a series of man-made islands.

A Japanese P3-C patrol plane this week flew over parts of the South China Sea that Beijing claims during a search and rescue exercise with the Philippine military. China criticized the drill as "meddling" by Tokyo.