Japan deploys jets after Chinese planes fly near its islands

Japan feels under threat as Chinese jets begin to carry out drills near country’s islands

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Tokyo scrambles fighter jets amid lingering territorial rows and worries over China's growing assertiveness.[Reuters]

Japan scrambled jets on Saturday after China carried out drills near the southern Japanese islands.

According to the Chinese Defence Ministry, eight bombers, two intelligence gathering planes, and one early-warning aircraft had flown over Miyako Strait, near Okinawa Island in Western Pacific on Friday.  

Chinese Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke said the operations were held to improve combat capability of Chinese military on long-distance missions.  

“The air force has conducted drills four times this year in the western Pacific Ocean and it has improved its long-distance operational capability at sea,” People’s Liberation Army Air Force said in a statement on its official microblog, adding that the operations have not violated international law and norms.

Japan has not made any comments on the issue yet. However Japan's largest media outlet, Yomiuri Shimbun reported that this was unusual for China to carry out such a large flight close to Japan's airspace, adding that the defence ministry is analysing the purposes of China's latest operations.

China has its own interests on the strait which is located between Okinawa and Miyako Islands due to being a passageway to reach the Pacific Ocean.The strait is also situated beside the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, where China had declared an air defense identification zone in 2013.

Japan has been increasing its defense capabilities as a response to growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, especially around Okinawa.

Japan has scrambled its jets against Chinese jets 231 times this year between the months of April and September.

TRTWorld and agencies