Japan voiced renewed concern yesterday over China’s growing military power, a day after two Chinese naval planes made a close approach to a disputed island chain in the East China Sea.
Top government spokesman Yukio Edano said Japan scrambled fighter-jets on Wednesday to chase off the Chinese planes flying about 55km from the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Taiwan.
According to Japanese media reports citing unnamed officials, it was the closest approach yet by Chinese military aircraft to the islands.
However, the Chinese aircraft — identified by Kyodo News as Y-8 intelligence and marine patrol planes — did not enter Japanese territory and flew off once they were confronted.
“We regard the modernization of China’s military power and its growing and intense activities as concerns,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano said. “Our country will continue to pay close attention to moves by China’s military.”
He said that Japan had no plans to lodge an official complaint over the flights, which he said “did not violate international law.”
China’s increased military activity has sparked a defense rethink in which Japan has said it plans to send more forces to its southern islands and away from Cold War-era locations in the north near Russia.
Japan’s Self-Defense Force dispatched its fighters 48 times in response to close flights by Chinese military aircraft between April and December last year, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.
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