Japan has lodged a protest against Russia after Tokyo dispatched four warplanes to intercept an intruding airplane — believed to be Russian — which violated the Southeast Asian country’s airspace for a short time.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry made the protest soon after the aircraft entered the country’s airspace off the coast of the northernmost island of Hokkaido on Tuesday afternoon.
“We made the protest through the Russian embassy in Tokyo,” a foreign ministry official said, adding that “the Russian side did not confirm the case, only saying they will check.”
The Japanese Air Force scrambled its fighter jets to head off the intruder, which it considered to be Russian, after examining its course, a defense ministry official said.
The plane left toward the disputed Kuril Islands, claimed by Tokyo but controlled by Moscow, sixteen seconds after entering Japanese airspace, the defense ministry noted.
Following Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, the Soviet troops took control of the four islands, which lie north of Japan’s Hokkaido Island.
According to the ministry, it was the first time a Russian plane entered Japan’s airspace since August 2013, when two Tu-95 Russian bomber aircraft were intercepted off Okinoshima Island in southwestern Japan.