Seoul slams Tokyo over radar recordings

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Seoul slams Tokyo over radar recordings

South Korea’s Defense Ministry and military analysts said audio recordings released by Japan a day earlier were manipulated and were not caused by a fire-control radar from a Korean warship, as Tokyo has argued.

On Monday, Japan’s Defense Ministry released two audio files which it said were proof that the Gwanggaeto the Great-class Korean destroyer locked its fire-control radar on a Japanese spy plane on Dec. 20 in international waters between the two countries. It added that Tokyo would no longer engage in talks with Seoul on the dispute, rejecting South Korea’s proposal to hold a joint investigation by professionals from both countries to verify the facts behind the incident.

The first of these recordings, an 18-second sound bite Tokyo said was produced by the radar warning receiver on its jet after it was targeted by the Korean ship’s fire-control radar, is composed of mechanical screeching sounds produced at irregular intervals.

A fire-control radar is designed to provide information on a target before firing. Japan’s Defense Ministry said “a specialized military unit analyzed the frequency, intensity and receiving waveform” from its P-1 maritime surveillance jet and concluded the sound displays characteristics typical of a fire-control radar.

Tokyo said the second 21-second recording, which consists of beeps at one-second intervals, was produced by the radar-warning receiver after detecting the search radar on the South Korean ship.

Seoul has said its destroyer was using both radars at the time to assist in the rescue of a marooned North Korean vessel.

Since it first made the accusation a day after the incident, Japan has been mounting a month-long public relations campaign to condemn South Korea over the matter. Analysts in Seoul argue this holds a political purpose rather than a military one.

The Korean government has fought back with its own public remonstrations against Japan, with its Defense Ministry Monday calling the decision to release the audio recordings as an “inappropriate public relations” move.

“We cannot verify the detection date, angle and traits of radar frequency from the sounds presented by the Japanese side, which appear to be just mechanical noise,” said Choi Hyun-soo, spokeswoman for Seoul’s Defense Ministry, Monday. A ministry source added Tuesday that the recordings released by Tokyo were manipulated to isolate the supposed sounds from the fire-control radar. The source said the original recording would be necessary to determine whether the ship locked on to the Japanese plane.

Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs (Krima), a government-licensed defense think tank, backed up Seoul’s responses Tuesday. It conducted an analysis of the recordings, but was unable to match the frequency in the audio recordings with the radar on the Korean warship.

Researchers at Krima said they tried to find patterns in the audio that would typically be produced by the Cassegrain antenna on the Signal Tracking and Illumination (STIR) fire-control radar the Korean Navy uses, but concluded that there were no such patterns.

Moreover, the revolutions per minute from the main search radar on the destroyer do not match those in the audio, a Krima spokesman said.

The research institute also added that the P-1 jet pilot’s subdued voice and reaction in a video released last month by Japan to prove its case shows that the plane’s radar-alarm system may not have been operating, since such a situation would warrant emergency action.

A military analyst from the Agency for Defense Development, a Korean government-run arms maker, told Yonhap News Monday that while the search radar from the Japanese recordings can be verified as coming from the Korean ship, the sound from what Japan claims is the fire-control radar appears to be fabricated.

“Many different radars were operated [by the destroyer] at the time on the sea, so we cannot conclude the sound is from the fire-control radar,” he said.

Japan’s aggressive stance towards Seoul is proving politically advantageous for the Shinzo Abe administration, whose approval numbers rose by 4.2 percent in a poll released by the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun Tuesday.

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