[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Russian fighter jets 'breach Japan airspace'

Russia denies allegation, while Tokyo responds by scrambling combat fighters and lodging a diplomatic protest.
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2013 13:54

Japan's foreign ministry says that two Russian fighter jets have violated Japanese airspace near the northern island of Hokkaido, a charge that Russia has denied.

Tokyo said that it scrambled combat fighters and lodged a protest in response to Thursday's alleged intrusion off Hokkaido. The planes were detected within Japanese airspace for just over a minute, initial reports said.

The alleged intrusion on Thursday came on Japan's "Northern Territories Day", when rallies are traditionally held calling for the return of disputed islands off Hokkaido.

It was the first such intrusion in five years, a ministry official said.

Russian denial

Russia has issued a denial, saying that while flights near the border were common, the international lines were strictly respected.

"Flights by the air force of the Pacific Fleet take place regularly in this region, in strict adherence to the international rules, without violation of state borders," Roman Martov, the spokesperson of the military command's eastern district, said in a statement to Russian news agencies on Thursday.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is expected to visit Moscow later this month to discuss territorial matters.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev landed on the remote island chain in July, prompting protests from Tokyo.

Medvedev's trip to the disputed islands in Russia's Far East - known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia, but as the Northern Territories in Japan, prompted Japan's ministry of foreign affairs to complain.

Unlike Japan's dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea, which are near potentially vast maritime oil and gas reserves, the feud with Russia has more to do with the legacy of World War II.

Soviet soldiers seized the islands at the end of the war and the territorial row has weighed on diplomatic relations ever since, precluding a formal peace treaty.

286

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
NSA whistleblower Snowden and journalist Greenwald accuse Wellington of mass spying on New Zealanders.
Whatever the referendum's outcome, energy created by the grassroots independence campaign has changed Scottish politics.
Traders and farmers struggle to cope as restrictions on travel prevent them from doing business and attending to crops.
Unique mobile messaging service, mMitra, helps poor pregnant women in Mumbai fight against maternal mortality.
Influential independence figure has been key in promoting Scottish nationalism, but will his efforts succeed?
join our mailing list