Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-15 fighter jets took to the skies, flying over Chinese aircraft on a routine air patrol above disputed waters in the East China Sea, according to the Chinese Ministry of Defense. The area in question is over varied territorial claims of a islets chain between the two countries. The islets, which are administered by Japan are called Senkaku by the Japanese nation, while China calls the islets Diaoyu. This incident is the latest in the long-running dispute over the rights to the islets.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Defense, China took appropriate measures when several Japanese jets entered East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) during a patrol on Wednesday. In a statement from the Ministry of Defense, the patrol was to protect order and security in the area. Spokesman Shen Jinke, a Chinese Air Force Colonel, reported that the Japanese fighter jets attempted to shadow China’s planes that were on this alleged patrol two different times, and that the Chinese Air Force responded to this perceived threat from the Japanese fairly and within reason.
The Japanese Defense Ministry indicated that they had no information on these most recent happenings above the East China Sea between his country’s F-15 fighters and the Chinese aircraft over the disputed territories. While the Japanese government claims to have no knowledge of the events, the incident appears to just be the latest to take place in the skies above the disputed islets, and indications from both sides tell it will not be the last incident.
In May, Japan was accused by the Chinese of dangerous actions in the ADIZ. At the time, China was participating with Russia in maritime drills and cited that the intrusion by Japan into the ADIZ could have resulted in an accidental mid-air collision. This was followed later in the month by a claim by the Japanese Defense Ministry that two Chinese fighter jets, Russian made SU-27’s, flew too close to two Japanese aircraft. The Japanese YS-11EB and OP-3C Orion aircraft, both electronic intelligence crafts, were flying above the disputed waters of the East China Sea where both countries’ claimed ADIZ’s overlap with each other.
Japan had previously warned the Chinese in a 2014 defense white paper, that these continued dangerous acts in the air over the East China Sea could result in unintended consequences. The papers state that the so-called assertive measures adopted by the Chinese is not compatible with existing international law.
The Japanese have repeatedly expressed concern over China’s ADIZ in the East China Sea area in question. China proclaimed their ADIZ covering regions, including the Japanese controlled islets, in the East China Sea in November 2013. This was done even though there were protests by both the United States and Japan.
Prior to the most recent event between the Chinese aircraft and the Japanese F-15 fighter jets, China had summoned the defense attache from Japan to formally lodge a protest after both countries had previous hand tangles with their opposites military aircraft. It appears, like many disputes and conflicts around the world, this dispute is set to continue until either the Chinese or Japanese are pushed too far or an unfortunate collision causes escalates the situation beyond formal complaints and finger-pointing.
By Carl Auer