Photo: wikimedia commons
Data quietly released this week by the Japanese defence Ministry reveals China and Russia are to blame for a record number of emergency operations by Japan’s Air Self-defence Force.Kyodo news agency reports:
Japan scrambled fighter planes 156 times in response to Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese airspace in fiscal 2011, a record high number for China since the defence Ministry started releasing such data by country in 2001, the ministry said Wednesday.
But it was Russia that tipped records to a peak that hasn’t been reached in 20 years. Closely-approaching Russian military jets prompted Japanese fighter planes to gear up to protect the Asian country’s borders 247 times.
A ministry official told Japanese media that foreign aircraft, namely China’s, are executing a wider range of missions far too close to Japan. It’s considered “evidence in part of China’s increasing military activity” and cause for concern.
“Flight patterns have diversified with intelligence-gathering aircraft standing out,” noted the official.
Chinese jets flew around the Nansei Islands around the East China Sea, and over Okinawa where a huge U.S. military installation is based. But China’s transgressions don’t seem to faze Japan all that much. The Japanese government has just closed a deal with the U.S. to remove 9000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa. At the moment, there are 47,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan, according to Reuters.
It’s not clear which other countries also sent Japan’s self-defence forces into a scramble last year to bring the reported total to 425 times.
But the release of the data does coincide with the Chinese military’s “solemn vow on territory” around the Asia Pacific region. China Daily reports armed forces officially vowed to “‘fulfil their duty’ to safeguard China’s territory in the South China Sea” yesterday — other countries in the area will see that as China’s attempt to take over the region.
China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea, and its threat to encroach on neighbouring countries’ borders, has promoted the U.S. to pivot its attention to Asia Pacific. The Pentagon is sending the most troops to the region since World War II.
U.S. Marines have been doing joint-drills with Philippine forces this week and conducted an exercise to practice re-taking an island in the region. China was furious, but it’s also been war-gaming and just wrapped up a large-scale joint-drill with Russia in the Yellow Sea.
It may be worth noting the Yellow Sea is west of Japan’s coastal borders. It was the location of one of the most decisive naval engagements in the Russo-Japanese war in 1904.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.