TOKYO --- Japanese military planes now must scramble daily — sometimes several times a day — in response to Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese airspace, Japan’s defense minister told foreign journalists in Tokyo on Thursday.
“We need to assess China’s capability and intention,” Defense Minister Taro Kono, speaking in English, said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
China has gone from a nation without modern fighter jets, submarines or frigates in the early 1990s to one with more than 1,000 fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, he said. Japan has a little over 300 of these aircraft in its Air Self-Defense Force.
“In the East China Sea our fighter jets scramble against Chinese airplanes almost every day, sometimes more than once,” he said.
Japan and China have overlapping territorial claims in the East China Sea, with valuable natural resources at stake.
China is also opening a wide gap between the two nations’ military arsenals, Kono said, and is building many submarines, frigates and destroyers. (end of excerpt)
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