Japan scrambles jets after China plane flies by southern islands

By REUTERS
July 24, 2013 14:08

TOKYO - Japan scrambled fighter jets on Wednesday after a Chinese military aircraft flew through international airspace near its southern islands out over the Pacific for the first time, in a move seen by Japan as underlining China's maritime expansion.

Ties between China and Japan have been strained by a territorial dispute over uninhabited East China Sea islets and hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a decisive victory in upper house elections on Sunday.

Japan's Defense Ministry said a Chinese military aircraft flew through airspace between Okinawa prefecture's main island and the smaller Miyako island in southern Japan out over the Pacific at around noon and later took the same route back over the East China Sea.

"I believe this indicates China's move toward further maritime expansion," Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters, in comments carried on public broadcaster NHK.


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