Japan's Air Self-Defense Force scrambled F-15 fighter jets after a Chinese aircraft approached the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the Defense Ministry has said.
The ministry said that the Y-12 propeller plane, operated by China's State Oceanic Administration, however, did not intrude into Japanese airspace above the islands, whose sovereignty is disputed by Beijing, the ministry said.
According to the Japan Times, it was the first Chinese aircraft spotted over the Japan-controlled islands since December 26, and the sixth since December 13, when a Chinese plane intruded into Japan's airspace south of the Senkakus.
According to the ministry's Joint Staff Office, the ASDF dispatched F-15 jets from its base in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, after the Self-Defense Forces' radar detected the Chinese propeller plane approaching the disputed isles from the northwest around Saturday noon, the report said.
The aircraft passed as close as 120 km north of the Senkaku Islands, before steering eastwards and then departing towards the north, it added. (ANI)