Japan to remain vigilant after China air force drill

Remark comes after Japan scrambled fighter jets after Chinese aircraft flew over Miyako Strait on way to drills in Pacific

Japan to remain vigilant after China air force drill

World Bulletin / News Desk

Tokyo stressed Monday that it will remain vigilant and "watch closely" activities by Beijing’s military after Chinese fighter jets flew through a strait between Japanese islands in southern Okinawa prefecture.

Kyodo news agency quoted Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga telling reporters that despite the aircraft not violating Japan's airspace, Tokyo "will continue to devote every effort to vigilance and surveillance and rigorously enforce steps against intrusions into our airspace based on international law and the Self-Defense Forces law."

On Sunday, Japan scrambled fighter jets from its Air Self-Defense Force after eight Chinese aircraft -- reportedly including two fighters -- flew in international airspace over the Miyako Strait on their way to a drill in the West Pacific.

According to Japan’s defense ministry, the flights marked the first by Chinese fighter jets over the strait, which Chinese military spy planes have passed over in the past.

China’s air force sent more than 40 aircraft to the West Pacific on Sunday for a “routine drill”, while a patrol was also conducted over the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) unilaterally declared by Beijing in 2013 in the disputed East China Sea.

State news agency Xinhua quoted Shen Jinke, People's Liberation Army Air Force spokesman, as saying the activities were conducted "in accordance with the needs of the Air Force to defend national sovereignty and security, as well as to maintain peaceful development".

On Monday, Japan’s Suga described the Chinese ADIZ declaration as "something that interferes with the freedom of flight in international airspace, a basic principle of international law".

"There is no change to [the government's stance] that we absolutely cannot accept the Chinese military's designation of the airspace over the Senkaku Islands, Japan's inherent territory, as if it were Chinese airspace," he said.

The Senkakus -- which Beijing calls the Diaoyu Islands -- are a group of uninhabited islets currently controlled by Japan in the East China Sea.

High-level dialogue between China and Japan had been suspended for two years prior to a meeting in November 2014 between their leaders due to tension following the Japanese government’s purchase of three of the disputed islands in September 2012.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Eylül 2016, 12:01