Japan scrambles jets to head off China plane flying near disputed islands
TOKYO (AFP) - Japan scrambled fighter jets on Saturday to head off a Chinese state-owned plane that flew near islands at the centre of a dispute between Tokyo and Beijing, a Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The Japanese jets were mobilised after a Chinese maritime aircraft ventured some 120 km north of the Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, at around 12:00 pm (11am Singapore time), the spokesman said.
The Chinese Y-12 twin-turboprop later left the zone without entering Japanese airspace over the islands, he added.
It was the first time Japanese fighter jets had been scrambled this year to counter Chinese aircraft approaching the islands, the spokesman said.