J. Michael Cole
September 11, 2013
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces were on a high state of alert on September 9 ahead of the first anniversary of Japan’s controversial purchase of islets in the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu archipelago, particularly after a pair of Chinese bombers flew near Okinawa the previous day.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has ordered military personnel to strengthen their surveillance around the Senkakus, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan. A source in the Japanese government indicated that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Chinese maritime enforcement could take “outstanding” action in the area on September 11, the first anniversary of the purchase.
The “nationalization” of three of the five islets comprising the Senkakus in 2012 sparked large-scale protests across China, which also claims ownership of the oil- and natural-gas-rich area. Beijing retaliated against Japan’s attempted nationalization of the islets by increasing the frequency of naval patrols in the area, raising fears of accidental clashes and escalation.
Meanwhile, the Japanese Defense Ministry confirmed in a statement that it had scrambled fighter aircraft on September 8 to shadow two Chinese Xian H-6 bombers that were observed between the main island of southern Okinawa and Miyakojima, an area that Chinese vessels have often used to transit into the Pacific Ocean to conduct exercises. The bombers reportedly did not violate Japanese airspace.
This article was posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 5:03 am