S.Korea's military denounces Japan for patrol plane's low

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SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's defense ministry on Wednesday strongly denounced Japan as a Japanese patrol plane conducted a low-altitude flight near a South Korean battleship, which the ministry called "threatening."

The Seoul ministry said in a statement that a Japanese patrol plane flew close to a South Korean battleship as low as 80-70 meters and as close as 540 meters in waters off the southwest coast at about 2:03 p.m. local time (0803 GMT).

It came amid the ongoing radar spat between Seoul and Tokyo. The Japanese defense ministry claimed that a South Korean destroyer locked its fire-control radar on a Japanese patrol aircraft on Dec. 20 last year, flatly denied by the South Korean side.

Calling it a low-altitude, threatening flight, the ministry noted that it was clearly a "provocative act."

In response, the Seoul defense ministry said the Japanese patrol plane flew low toward the South Korean destroyer, which was on a humanitarian mission to rescue a fishing boat drifting in international waters of the East Sea.