- Special Pages
TOKYO: Japan scrambled fighter jets yesterday to head off a Chinese state-owned plane that flew near islands at the centre of a dispute between Tokyo and Beijing, a Japanese Defence Ministry spokesman said.
Japanese jets were mobilised after a Chinese maritime aircraft ventured some 120km north of the Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, at around midnight (0300 GMT), the
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.
The response came as Japan decided to increase defence spending for the first time in 11 years, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Citing “sources familiar with the matter”, Kyodo said that the newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party is trying to bring defence spending for the 2013 financial year to at least 4.77 trillion yen ($53.43bn).
That compares with the 2012 budget of 4.71 trillion yen initiated by the Democratic Party of Japan, which suffered a crushing defeat in last month’s general election.
The sources added that Shinzo Abe’s new government is also considering upping the number of self-defence personnel and upgrading their equipment, Kyodo reported.