Chinese and Russian fighter jets conducted joint flights near Japan on Tuesday when Quad-block leaders met in Tokyo, Japan’s defense minister said.
Nobuo Kishi said the government had expressed “serious concern” to Russia and China over the flights, which took place as leaders from the United States, India, Australia and Japan held talks over regional security.
The planes have not breached territorial airspace, the defense ministry told AFP, and it is the fourth time since November that joint long-haul flights by Russia and China have been spotted near Japan.
“Two Chinese bombers joined two Russian bombers in the Sea of Japan and made a joint flight to the East China Sea,” Kishi told reporters.
“After that, a total of four aircraft, two suspected (new) Chinese bombers – which replaced the two Chinese bombers – and two Russian bombers, made a joint flight from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean.”
He said a Russian intelligence-gathering plane also flew from northern Hokkaido to central Japan’s Noto Peninsula on Tuesday, calling the moves particularly “provocative” given the Tokyo summit.
The Quad leaders on Tuesday warned of attempts to “change the status quo by force,” though in a joint statement they avoided direct references to Russia or China.
However, their statement referred to the war in Ukraine and listed a range of activities Beijing is regularly accused of in the region.
Kishi said Japan had “communicated through diplomatic routes our grave concerns from the perspective of the security of our country and the region”.
“As the international community reacts to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the fact that China has taken such action in conjunction with Russia, which is the aggressor, is cause for concern. It cannot be overlooked.”
Japan, which has volatile ties and border disputes with its neighbors China, Russia and South Korea, routinely sends fighter jets to defend its air borders.
The country shook up 1,004 military planes in the past year to March, the second-highest on record, according to the Defense Ministry.
Most were intended to counter approaching Chinese aircraft, although many of the rest were Russian aircraft.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)