TOKYO: Japan scrambled eight fighter jets on Thursday after a Chinese state-owned plane breached its airspace for the first time, over islands at the centre of a dispute between the countries.
It was the first incursion by a Chinese state aircraft into Japanese airspace anywhere since Tokyo’s military began monitoring in 1958, the defence ministry said.
The move marks a ramping-up of what observers suggest is a Chinese campaign to create a “new normal”—where its forces come and go as they please around islands Beijing calls the Diaoyus, but Tokyo controls as the Senkakus.
It also comes as ceremonies mark the sensitive 75th anniversary of the start of the Nanjing Massacre, when Japanese Imperial Army troops embarked on an orgy of violence and killing in the then-Chinese capital.
F-15 jets were mobilised after a Chinese Maritime Surveillance twin turbo-prop aircraft ventured over the islands just after 11 am (0200 GMT), Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters.