Chi­nese fighter planes fly close to Ja­pan

The Myanmar Times - - World -

CHINA sent fighter planes for the first time over a strait near Ja­pan, the two gov­ern­ments said yes­ter­day, af­ter Tokyo an­nounced it may pa­trol along­side the US in the dis­puted South China Sea.

More than 40 Chi­nese mil­i­tary air­craft tra­versed the Miyako Strait be­tween Ja­pan’s Miyako and Ok­i­nawa Is­lands on Septem­ber 25, to carry out train­ing in the West Pa­cific, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment on China’s de­fence min­istry web­site.

The Sukhoi Su-30 fight­ers, bombers and re­fu­elling air­craft did not vi­o­late Ja­panese airspace.

Ja­pan’s de­fence min­istry said it was the first time Chi­nese fight­ers had passed over the strait.

The drill is aimed at “test­ing far sea com­bat ca­pa­bil­i­ties”, the Chi­nese state­ment said. It fol­lows China’s first mil­i­tary flight, car­ried out by spy planes, over the Miyako Strait last year.

The move comes af­ter Ja­panese De­fence Min­is­ter To­momi Inada said ear­lier this month that Tokyo would in­crease its en­gage­ment in the South China Sea through joint train­ing cruises with the US Navy, ex­er­cises with re­gional navies and ca­pac­ity-build­ing as­sis­tance to coastal na­tions.

Bei­jing as­serts sovereignty over al­most all of the South China Sea, dis­miss­ing ri­val par­tial claims from its South­east Asian neigh­bours. It re­jects any in­ter­ven­tion by Ja­pan in the wa­ter­way.

In re­cent months Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe has crit­i­cised China for re­ject­ing a July rul­ing by an in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal, which said Bei­jing’s ex­ten­sive claims to the wa­ters had no le­gal ba­sis.

Tokyo, a key US ally, is also strength­en­ing de­fence ties with other coun­tries in the dis­puted re­gion. Ja­pan and China are al­ready at log­ger­heads over a long­stand­ing ter­ri­to­rial row in the East China Sea.

That dis­pute re­lates to un­in­hab­ited islets con­trolled by Ja­pan known as the Senkakus in Ja­panese and the Diaoyus in Chi­nese.

Mr Abe said yes­ter­day Ja­pan

would “never tol­er­ate at­tempts to uni­lat­er­ally change the sta­tus quo” in the dis­puted wa­ters, or “wher­ever else in the world”, in an ap­par­ent re­sponse to the Chi­nese move.

“We pledge to pro­tect Ja­pan’s ter­ri­tory, and in the sea and air,” he said in a speech to open a new par­lia­men­tary ses­sion.

Ja­pan and China “share a mu­tual un­der­stand­ing that we’re sig­nif­i­cantly re­spon­si­ble for re­gional peace and pros­per­ity”, he added.

In its state­ment the Chi­nese de­fence min­istry said it had also mo­bilised an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of bombers and fight­ers to pa­trol the East China Sea Air De­fence Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone (ADIZ). –

Photo: AFP

Shinzo Abe has pledged to pro­tect Ja­pan’s ter­ri­tory.

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