Tokyo: Chinese military aircraft have become more aggressive in confrontations with Japanese aircraft operating over the East China Sea, since a collision between a Chinese trawler and Japanese Coast Guard vessel in September.
Defence officials in Tokyo told the Asahi newspaper that in addition to the harassment of Japanese aircraft, China has stepped up its probing of air defences in the region and the monitoring of military exercises involving units from the United States and Japan.
In the last nine months, Japanese fighters have been scrambled to intercept Chinese intruders on 44 occasions, the highest figure in the last five years and more than double the number for the whole of fiscal 2006, the Telegraph quoted Japanese Defence Ministry officials, as saying.
Officials also claimed that Chinese reconnaissance aircraft are also increasingly entering Japan’s Air Defence Identification Zone.
Although this is not a breach of territorial airspace, it does inevitably lead to interceptors being scrambled.
In October, a Chinese Navy JH-7 fighter-bomber reportedly breached the ADIZ and came close enough to a Japanese fighter to make a visual identification.
During the "Keen Sword" military exercises in early December, F-15 fighters based in Okinawa were scrambled to meet an unidentified aircraft approaching the ADIZ.
Japanese pilots confirmed that the aircraft was a Chinese Navy Y-8X maritime patrol aircraft.
Japan has already expressed concern over China`s increased spending on its military, particularly its Navy and Air Force.