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Weapons radar row flares up between South Korea and Japan

DENIAL. South Korea denies Japan's allegations, insisting that the warship was only partaking in a humanitarian rescue mission. Photo from Wikipedia

DENIAL. South Korea denies Japan's allegations, insisting that the warship was only partaking in a humanitarian rescue mission.

Photo from Wikipedia

SEOUL, South Korea – A row between Seoul and Tokyo escalated Friday, December 28, after Japan released video it said backed up its claim that a South Korean warship had locked its weapons targeting system onto a Japanese plane.

South Korea condemned the release of the footage and reiterated its rejection of the Japanese allegations.

Tensions have flared since Japan alleged that a South Korean destroyer last week aimed its fire-control radar at a Japanese maritime patrol plane in the Sea of Japan off the eastern coast of South Korea.

Seoul has denied the allegations, saying the ship was merely searching for a North Korean fishing boat that was drifting near the inter-Korean sea border.

In a bid to defuse tensions, defense authorities from both sides held a video conference on Thursday and "exchanged opinions regarding the truth and technical analysis to remove misunderstandings," the South Korean defense ministry said. (READ: South Korea conducts war games to defend against Japan)

But the Japanese defense ministry on Friday released on its homepage a 13-minute video filmed by the aircraft which it said supported its allegations.

Tokyo said the footage contained scenes where the plane was hit multiple times by the fire-control radar.

"We express deep concern and regret" over the unilateral release of the footage, the South Korean defense ministry said in a statement Friday.

"As we have stated repeatedly, the Gwanggaeto destroyer was engaging in a normal rescue operation and it remains as a fact that the ship did not use" the fire-control radar, it said.

"Instead, it is very disappointing that the Japanese patrol aircraft conducted a low-altitude flight in a threatening manner against our ship which was involved in a humanitarian rescue mission," it said.

It dismissed the footage as failing to stand up as evidence as it only shows scenes of the ship from the circling plane. (READ: Japan rebukes South Korea for weapons radar lock on war plane)

The spat has further complicated already tense relations between the neighbours who are tangled in disputes over Tokyo's claim to a remote island controlled by Seoul and Japan's denial of legal responsibility for wartime atrocities.– Rappler.com