Japan sent fighter jets to the disputed Diaoyu Islands on Thursday after it detected several Chinese military planes in the area, according to Japanese media. From AFP (via the South China Morning Post):
The Chinese planes were spotted on Japanese military radar north of the islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus, the Fuji TV network and Kyodo news agency reported, quoting Japanese defence ministry officials.
They did not violate territorial airspace over the islands but flew inside Japan’s so-called airdefence identification zone, the report said.
The Japanese defence ministry’s press office did not confirm the report.
The Chinese planes were gone when F-15 jet fighters from an airbase on Japan’s main Okinawan island reached the area, the report said.
The news marks the second time in less than a month that Japan has scrambled fighter jets to the skies above the islets, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands. The December incident, however, involved Chinese state-owned surveillance planes as opposed to People’s Liberation Army aircraft. A Global Times report on Friday noted that while the Japanese Coast Guard told AFP that they were not aware of a Chinese military aircraft presence, a senior Japanese defense ministry official told Japan’s Kyodo News that the aircraft detected included J-7 and J-10 fighter jets.
The Global Times report also had more on the so-called air defense identification zone (ADIZ) where the incident was reported to take place:
An ADIZ is set up by a country or a regional bloc outside its territorial airspace, in which the administrator can scramble fighter jets to intercept unidentified flying objects in the interests of national security, a source from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army air force, told the Global Times.
So far, only a handful of coastal countries, including Japan, have announced their own ADIZ.
The westernmost part of Japan’s ADIZ is only 130 kilometers from China’s coastline, the air force source told the Global Times.
However, the ADIZ cannot be regarded as one country’s territorial airspace, and the country has no right to interrupt the flight route of any aircraft in the ADIZ, even if the owner of the aircraft didn’t report to the ADIZ’s administrator, the source said.
“According to both international laws and Japanese domestic laws, Japan’s fighter jets have no right to harass the regular training of China’s military aircraft,” he stated.
Today, China’s State Oceanic Administration said that China would continue to carry out regular patrols over its waters in the territory:
China will continue to oppose any infringement on the country’s sovereignty over territorial waters by Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, said Liu Caigui, director with the administration at a national conference on maritime work.
“Faced with a sharper and more complicated situation, we will take more responsibilities to steadfastly maintain the country’s maritime rights and interests,” Liu said.
China will also repair damaged territorial sea base points, complete a maritime name list of the waters off the South China Sea, and carry out research in the demarcation of the 200-nautical miles outer continental shelf, the administration said.