News / Asia

Japan Scrambles Jets After Chinese Plane Approaches Contested Islands

Japanese Coast Guard Commandant Takashi Kitamura speaks during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo December 13, 2012.
Japanese Coast Guard Commandant Takashi Kitamura speaks during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo December 13, 2012.
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VOA News
Japan scrambled eight F-15 fighter jets after a Chinese plane entered disputed airspace near contested islands in the East China Sea on Thursday, prompting a diplomatic dispute between the two Asian powers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura says the jets were sent in response to a Chinese Oceanic Administration airplane that was spotted near the islands. He said Japan has lodged an official protest and summoned the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo.

"It is extremely deplorable that China's official airplane conducted an airspace invasion of Japan's territory today, on top of their intrusion of territorial waters for three days in a row, as of today, despite our repeated warnings."

A spokesperson for the Japanese prime minister's office confirmed to VOA that in addition to the F-15s, a E-2C "Hawkeye" observation aircraft was also scrambled from Naha, Okinawa.

An airplane belonging to China's state oceanic administration flies past about 15 km (9 miles) south of one of the disputed islets in this handout released by 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters-Japan Coast Guard, December 13, 2012.An airplane belonging to China's state oceanic administration flies past about 15 km (9 miles) south of one of the disputed islets in this handout released by 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters-Japan Coast Guard, December 13, 2012.
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An airplane belonging to China's state oceanic administration flies past about 15 km (9 miles) south of one of the disputed islets in this handout released by 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters-Japan Coast Guard, December 13, 2012.
An airplane belonging to China's state oceanic administration flies past about 15 km (9 miles) south of one of the disputed islets in this handout released by 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters-Japan Coast Guard, December 13, 2012.
The Japanese government described the incident as the first ever "intrusion" by a Chinese plane into what Japan considers its airspace. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said the plane's mission was "completely normal."

"The Diaoyu Islands and affiliated islands have been part of China's territory since antiquity," said Hong. "China's surveillance plane flying in airspace over the Diaoyu Islands is completely normal. China calls on Japan to halt illegal activities in waters around Diaoyu islands and airspace."

Sam Bateman, a maritime security expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, tells VOA that the incident should be viewed as a continuation of China's regular patrols in the area.

"I don't see it as a real escalation. I just see it as a demonstration of sovereignty," says Bateman. "It's understandable that both parties are going to engage in a bit of 'tit-for-tat,' you know fly close, patrol close to these islands, because that's the way you demonstrate your sovereignty claim."



Since Japan purchased the islands from a private landowner in September, China has sent regular patrol missions to the disputed waters, in what some analysts say is Beijing's attempt to establish the fact that it can come and go as its pleases.

The Japanese Coast Guard says four Chinese maritime surveillance vessels were seen near the Japan-administered islands earlier on Thursday.

The incident came as China marked the sensitive 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese soldiers entered China and embarked on a campaign that included mass rapes and killings of thousands of Chinese.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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by: Wangchuk from: NYC
December 14, 2012 10:35 AM
Japan, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan & Vietnam should all be wary of PRC hegemonism. The PRC wants to be the Middle Kingdom again & extend its territorial claims in Asia. The US should protect Japan and its allies from PRC territorial incursions & violations of their sovereignty.


by: Redcliff from: Aus
December 14, 2012 6:41 AM
What a waste of money, eight F15 and a E-2c Hawkeye to counter a one unarmed Chinese Oceanic Administrative Plane. This is really an over-killed exercise.

@ Samurai of Japan
Are you a parrot. You have been repeating this comment in other article of VOA. You should go back to your drawing board and create something more creative.


by: Hiro from: Japan
December 14, 2012 6:21 AM
The editor of this article forgot to print Okinawa of Japan, while HongKong of China is printed.

High authorities in China has been promoting expansion principle, saying "that island first, then Okinawa."
Bully fishing boats' attacks to our sea guards have got more and more often these years. Everytime we caught that "civilian" people, our government say please stop and feed them nicely and send them back 1st class. So it never stops; now it's the air.

Same things in Philipine, Vietnam.. just scary, we have to stop this.


by: Andy from: Texas
December 14, 2012 12:38 AM
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.", Edmund Burke. It is now the time for someone to stand up against China's bullying all around South East Asia. For thousand years, China is a country which is greedy for territory. Its history is the history of invasion and enslaving other countries. Japan's uprising and conquering in WWII is nothing compared to that. Plus, it is totally different now from the Japan in WWII. A peaceful, democratic, creative and productive, humble country, unlike China, an aggressive, communist country which imititates and spies on other country's hardworking research, manipulates their own currency for exporting leverage and yet always boastful about itself. Do all the disputed islands in Japan and Vietnam sea belong to China? Maybe, one day, China will claim Hawaii its island!

In Response

by: Redcliff from: Aus
December 15, 2012 7:25 AM
@ Andy from Texas

"China is a Country which is greedy for territory. Its history is the history of invasion and enslaving other countries"

From which text book did you study your history lesson room? These facts were far from the truth.
China has never enslaved any countries through history.
You must have mixed up your facts with Japan which invaded China and other Asian countries in the WWII. Japan committed atrocious deed to the Asian people and their allies(the US, British and Australian). Japan killed, raped and beheaded prisoner of war and civilians during WWII. It was US that stopped them by dropping a couple of Atomic bombs in Japan which end the war and thus the suffering of the Asian people.


by: Sam Ghalyoun from: USA
December 13, 2012 8:07 PM
Japan owns the island, and China should stop incursion, the world backs Japan to the maximum.
In case of stealing, China should pull out of Eastern Turkstan, and Tibet first before they speak of stealing.
Japan has nothing to fear from China, we are wtth them all the way.


by: John from: chicago
December 13, 2012 5:09 PM
Japan's territories were clearly defined in the WWII documents, the four big island and nearby islands. Japan lost Taiwan and other islands near Taiwan seized illegally in the past. Now Japan acts like thief, it claims it legally possess the island it steals.


by: Wake Up from: canada
December 13, 2012 3:52 PM
All I see from a free country is how greedy China is. They love to cry about Japans past but yet they do worst. Aren't you suppose to learn from past lesson, to make a better future?


by: Anonymous
December 13, 2012 11:30 AM
Remember the last time Japan went around claiming islands that didn't belong to them? Oh right that was called World War 2...and that whole thing turned out really well for them.


by: Samurai from: Japan
December 13, 2012 10:22 AM
China is always posing problems in the world. Its patrol ships also invading Japanese territorial waters every day. What china is doing is just like what a gangster does against a pedestrian---the gangster threatens the pedestrian and demands money or robs him of money. China still cannot understand that its lawless behavior only enables Japan to justify putting a beating on Chinese in order to teach Chinese ethics and manners.

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 13, 2012 11:03 AM
Japs want to invade the world ,and it really did in the history.The world should give this acquisitive country a lesson about how to be a respectful nation .


by: Anonymous
December 13, 2012 8:43 AM
To be honest, this all seems rather straight forward. Japan legally bought UNINHABITED islands from their PRIVATE owner, and now China is trying to make a land grab just as they are with several other countries at the moment. The worst part is, I'm sure the people of China have no access to any different viewpoint on the internet, as any undesirable information is blocked by the great firewall of China. If so, it is truly sad to see people get so upset over something they are not able to see the whole picture of due to government censorship.

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
December 15, 2012 2:24 AM
really? What about Taiwanese? they dont have access to different viewpoint on the internet? why Taiwanese and Hongkongers also landed on Diaoyu island and claim it?

In Response

by: Anonymous from: Herndon
December 13, 2012 10:29 AM
All chinese high ranking politician are all uneducated. They just don't know what their country looks like on a world map.

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 13, 2012 10:17 AM
It is straight forward if you look at it from only one side's perspective.

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