- Japan scrambled fighter jets after spotting Russian "intelligence-gathering" aircraft off its coasts.
- One Russian aircraft travelled from Japan’s north down along part of its west coast, while the other took a similar route along the opposite coast and returned the same way.
- Japan has joined Western allies in sanctioning Moscow over its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Japan scrambled fighter jets after spotting Russian “intelligence-gathering” aircraft off its coasts along the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan on Thursday, the country’s defence ministry has said.
One Russian aircraft travelled from Japan’s north down along part of its west coast, while the other took a similar route along the opposite coast and returned the same way, the Joint Staff office run under the defence ministry said in a brief statement.
“In response, fighters of the Air Self-Defence Force’s Northern Air Force and other units were scrambled,” it added.
There was no further information on the incident, which comes days after Japan hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensyy at the summit of Group of Seven (G7) – a grouping of rich nations – in Hiroshima city.
Japan has joined Western allies in sanctioning Moscow over its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and has warned of the threat posed by Russia.
Its latest security document, which once called for enhanced ties and cooperation with Russia, now warns that Moscow’s military posturing in Asia and cooperation with China are “a strong security concern”.
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Last May, Chinese and Russian military jets carried out joint flights near Japan immediately after a meeting of the United States-led Quad grouping in Tokyo. India and Australia are other members of Quad.
And more recently, Moscow has carried out military exercises, including test-firing missiles, in the Sea of Japan.
Russia considers Japan to be a “hostile” country – a designation it shares with all European Union countries, the US and its allies, including the United Kingdom and Australia.
Tokyo had complex relations with Moscow before the invasion of Ukraine in February, and the two sides have yet to sign a post-World War II peace treaty.
Attempts to do so have been hampered by a long-running dispute over islands controlled by Russia, which calls them the Kurils.