Ja­pan Sends Jets As China Flies Near Dis­puted Is­lands

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Ja­pan scram­bled fighter jets last Sun­day af­ter China flew a fleet of air­craft near con­tested is­lands in the East China Sea. Ja­panese Chief Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga said that the jets were sent up af­ter eight Chi­nese mil­i­tary planes crossed be­tween Ok­i­nawa and the Miyako is­lands near Tai­wan.

He said that two of the air­craft were thought to be fighter jets. He added that the planes didn’t “tres­pass” into Ja­pan’s ter­ri­to­rial airspace, although he said it was

the first time that Chi­nese mil­i­tary air­craft had been seen in the Miyako Strait. The fleet in­cluded H-6k bombers, Su-30 fight­ers and air tankers. “We will con­tinue to keep close eyes on the Chi­nese mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties which have been ex­pand­ing and be­come more fre­quent,” he said.

Shen Jinke, an of­fi­cial with the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Air Force (PLAAF), said that a fleet of 40 air­craft were sent to the West

Pa­cific via the Miyako Strait for a “rou­tine drill on the high seas,” ac­cord­ing to China’s of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency.

The fleet, which in­cluded H-6K bombers, Su-30 fight­ers and air tankers, sim­u­lated re­con­nais­sance and early warn­ing at­tacks on sea­sur­face tar­gets.

It also con­ducted in-flight re­fu­el­ing to test the Air Force’s fighting ca­pac­ity, Xin­hua added.

Ja­pan scram­bled a fighter jet as eight Chi­nese planes flew over the Miyako Strait.

The re­port added that the fleet con­ducted rou­tine pa­trols in China’s Air De­fence Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone (ADIZ), which the coun­try set up in the East China Sea in 2013 de­spite ob­jec­tions from Tokyo and Wash­ing­ton. Ja­pan re­jects the ADIZ, which en­com­passes dis­puted is­lands that are known as the Senkakus in Ja­pan and Diaoyu in China. Ja­pan also has an ADIZ over the is­lands, which it ad­min­is­ters. Mr Shen said the drills and pa­trols were con­ducted “in ac­cor­dance with the needs of the Air Force to de­fend na­tional sovereignty and se­cu­rity, as well as to main­tain peace­ful devel­op­ment.” Both China and Ja­pan claim own­er­ship of the is­lands and ten­sions have flared nu­mer­ous times in re­cent years. In mid-2014, Ja­panese and Chi­nese jets had a tense stand­off in a re­gion where both zones over­lap, with Ja­pan’s De­fence Min­is­ter say­ing the planes at one point came within 30 feet of each other. Ten­sion over the is­land dis­pute has in the past spilled over into protests and vi­o­lence against Ja­panese-owned busi­nesses in China. The Senkaku/Diaoyu is­lands are by no means the only is­lands whose own­er­ship China dis­putes.

Bei­jing claims the ma­jor­ity of the South China Sea as part of its ter­ri­tory, which has led to height­ened ten­sions and fre­quent dis­putes with its neigh­bours there.

China sent a fleet of 40 air­craft to the West Pa­cific via Miyako Strait for “rou­tine drill on the high seas.’

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