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International relations

South Korea demands Japanese apology over radar incident

Japan accused of 'distorting facts' as Seoul claims plane flew too low

South Korea denies locking fire-control radar on a Japanese P-1 patrol plane and claims it flew too low during a Dec. 20 incident in the Sea of Japan.   © Kyodo

SEOUL -- South Korea's defense ministry demanded an apology from Japan on Wednesday, insisting that a Japanese patrol plane made a "threatening" low-altitude pass near one of its warships during last month's encounter in the Sea of Japan.

The demand escalates the war of words over Tokyo's allegation that the South Korean destroyer locked fire-control radar on the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force P-1 aircraft on Dec. 20. Japan released a video last week purporting to show the incident.

South Korea's Ministry of National Defense has repeatedly denied using fire-control radar.

"Japan should stop distorting facts and rather apologize" for the plane's action, the statement on Wednesday said, describing the ship as "carrying out a humanitarian rescue."

The ministry urged that the two sides continue working-level talks over the incident.

The statement also expressed regret that a "high-ranking" Japanese official had made one-sided claims about the incident -- an apparent reference to remarks on Tuesday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a televised interview with Japanese media.

Abe called the radar lock-on a "dangerous act" during the interview.

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