JASDF launches jets against Chinese planes

Three Chinese military aircraft flew close to Japanese airspace Sunday, sending Japan Air Self Defense fighter jets to monitor the flights.

Defense Ministry officials say AY-8 intelligence gathering aircraft, along with two Chinese H-6 bombers, flew near the southern Okinawa islands over the East China Sea, but remained in international airspace.  The aircraft continued east over the Pacific Ocean before reversing course.

The three Chinese planes returned to China via the same route on Sunday.  A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense Joint staff said the planes “flew above public seas, and there was no violation of our airspace.”

The Senkaku Islands in southwestern Okinawa are the source of tension between Japan, which administers the islands and owns several of the five uninhabited, desolate pieces of rock, but China claims the same islands, calling them Diaoyu.  Chinese aircraft have been spotted near the islands repeatedly since September 2012, when Japan nationalized the Senkaku Islands.