Japan scrambled fighter jets Sunday after China flew a fleet of aircraft near contested islands in the East China Sea.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the jets were sent up after eight Chinese military planes crossed between Okinawa and the Miyako islands near Taiwan. He said that two of the aircraft were thought to be fighter jets.
He added that the planes didn’t “trespass” into Japan’s territorial airspace, although he said it was the first time that Chinese military aircraft had been seen in the Miyako Strait.
“We will continue to keep close eyes on the Chinese military activities which have been expanding and become more frequent,” he said.
Shen Jinke, an official with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, said that a fleet of 40 aircraft were sent to the West Pacific via the Miyako Strait Sunday for a “routine drill on the high seas,” according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
The fleet, which included H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and air tankers, simulated reconnaissance and early warning attacks on sea-surface targets. It also conducted in-flight refueling to test the Air Force’s fighting capacity, Xinhua added.
The report added that the fleet conducted routine patrols in China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which the country set up in the East China Sea in 2013 despite objections from Tokyo and Washington.
Japan rejects the ADIZ, which encompasses disputed islands that are known as the Senkakus in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
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SOURCE: CNN, Katie Hunt and Yoko Wakatsuki