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Japan Summons China Ambassador Over Plane Incident

  • VOA News

FILE - Cheng Yonghua (L), Chinese Ambassador to Japan, walks after meeting with Japan's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, November 25, 2013.

FILE - Cheng Yonghua (L), Chinese Ambassador to Japan, walks after meeting with Japan's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Akitaka Saiki at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, November 25, 2013.

Japan has summoned China's ambassador in Tokyo to protest an incident in which two Chinese fighter jets flew "dangerously close" to a pair of Japanese surveillance planes in the East China Sea.

Tokyo's Defense Ministry says the Chinese jets came within 30 meters of the Japanese aircraft Wednesday in airspace claimed by both nations. It was the second such incident in less than three weeks.

Japan's vice foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki, said Tokyo "denounced the incident strictly" and urged Beijing to take steps to ensure maritime tensions do not escalate.

"China should respond seriously to Japan's repeated request to put into practice the early use of some sort of communications mechanism which would prevent collisions between Japan and China and also to prevent unforeseen incidents," said Saiki.

Following his meeting Thursday with Saiki, China's ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, said China disagrees with Japan on what led to the incident.

"Today I came here to the Foreign Ministry to discuss the matter regarding the aircrafts' close approach yesterday. But all the facts that China gained through our investigation are totally different from those given by Japan. We cannot accept their protests," said Cheng.

Another near high-speed fly-by occurred in the same area on May 24, when Japan said two Chinese jets flew close to Japanese planes.

Both countries regularly send planes and ships near disputed islands in the East China Sea, raising fears of an accidental clash.

Tensions escalated in late 2012, when Japan's government purchased some of the islands from their private Japanese landowner.

China later set up an Air Defense Identification Zone in the area, demanding that all aircraft identify themselves before entering.

The U.S. and Japan have ignored the orders and have continued to fly planes through the ADIZ.
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