TOKYO (AFP) - Japan has scrambled fighter jets for two days running in response to four Chinese military aircraft flying over international waters near the Okinawa island chain, according to reports on Sunday.
The jets were deployed on Friday and Saturday as four Chinese planes - two Y8 early-warning aircraft and two H6 bombers - flew between Okinawa's main island and Miyako island, Jiji Press and Kyodo News agency said.
The Chinese military planes flew from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean and back again, but did not violate Japan's airspace, the reports said.
The Japanese defence ministry was not immediately available for confirmation.
The ministry is on increased alert amid concerns that the Chinese military may be escalating action in the East China Sea, where Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a war of words over disputed islands that lie between Okinawa and Taiwan.
"There are concerns that China is attempting to change the status quo by force, rather than by rule of law. But if China opts to take that path, then it won't be able to emerge peacefully," Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Saturday.