JASDF launches fighters to investigate drone
An unidentified aerial drone near the disputed Senkaku Islands in southwestern Okinawa Prefecture triggered a scramble by Japan Air Self Defense Force fighter jets earlier this week.
A Defense Ministry official says it was the first incident of its kind, noting that the drone did not enter into Japanese airspace. The incident was the second in two consecutive days, coming only a couple days before yesterday’s first anniversary of Japan’s purchase of three uninhabited islands in the Senkaku group of five, triggering a row with China, which calls the islets Diaoyu, and Taiwan, which claims them as Tiaoyutai.
Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, vowed after the Monday incident “Japan will enforce increased security to protect our land, sea and airspace around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.” The drone had flown within Japan’s air defense identification zone, an area that requires aircraft to identify themselves and state information about proposed flight patterns.
The Japan Air Self Defense Force sent jets to the area to defend the islands. China did now acknowledge the drone’s activities as being a Chinese action, but Hong Lei, a Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, said “I am not aware of the situation but want to emphasize that the Diaoyu Islands are an integral part of Chinese territory.”
China on Sunday had sent a pair of H-6 bombers on a round trip from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean, avoiding Japanese air space after overflying waters between Okinawa islands. The Defense Ministry confirmed the Chinese actions, noting it was the first time Chinese bombers had been in the area.