Japanese warplanes scrambled after Chinese fighter jets enter airspace
Published 24/07/2013 | 12:11
JAPAN scrambled fighter jets today after a Chinese military aircraft flew through international airspace near its southern islands out over the Pacific for the first time, in a move seen by Japan as underlining China's maritime expansion.
Ties between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial dispute over uninhabited East China Sea islets and hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a decisive victory in upper house elections on Sunday.
Japan's Defence Ministry said a Chinese military aircraft flew through airspace between Okinawa prefecture's main island and the smaller Miyako island in southern Japan out over the Pacific at around noon and later took the same route back over the East China Sea.
"I believe this indicates China's move toward further maritime expansion," Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters, in comments carried on public broadcaster NHK.