TOKYO, April 13 Japan's air force scrambled
fighter jets to chase away foreign aircraft at record pace in
the year to March 31, government figures showed on Thursday, as
Chinese military activity in and around the East China Sea
Japanese fighters scrambled 1,168 times over the 12-month
period compared with 873 times last year, according to a media
release from the Japanese Air Self Defence Force. That was also
well above the previous high of 944 incidents in 1984.
Of those, a record 851 jets were sent to head off Chinese
planes closing in on Japanese airspace, 280 times more than in
the same period last year.
Japan worries that Beijing's probing of its air defences is
a sign of China's intent to extend its military influence in the
East China Sea and western Pacific, where Japan controls a chain
of islands stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) from the mainland
south towards Taiwan.
Encounters with Russian aircraft, which are often bombers
flying from the north that skirt around Japan's airspace, rose
4.5 percent to 301 scrambles.
(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Tim Kelly; Editing by Paul