In a historic first, China is sending a Maritime Safety Agency (equivalent to the Japan Coast Guard) cutter to Japan to assist in the disaster relief effort. The ship has been identified as MSA21. According to China Air and Naval Power, MSA21 is a 1,500 ton vessel of the Haixun-21 class, and was built for the Shanghai MSA. The name suggests it is the lead ship in the class.

If so, this isn’t the first time MSA21 has worked with the Japanese. In October 2004, it participated in a piracy, counter-terrorism, and smuggling joint exercise with the Japan Coast Guard (PDF file).

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 530 post(s) on Japan Security Watch