Video: Japan scrambles aircraft after China violates airspace over disputed islands

posted at 8:41 am on December 13, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

A dispute over a small island group heated up considerably this morning after China sent a government aircraft into Japanese airspace to surveil the uninhabited Senkaku Islands.  Japan scrambled F-15s to confront the plane, which left without incident, but the two nations have traded diplomatic shots over the incident, CNN reports:

Japan has filed a protest with China over the incursion:

Japan lodged a protest against Beijing today, after a Chinese government airplane was spotted near the disputed Senkaku Islands, prompting Tokyo to scramble F-15 fighter jets, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.

The Ministry of Defense said the incident involving a Chinese Oceanic Administration aircraft marked the first time a Chinese plane violated Japanese airspace, and threatened to escalate already tense Sino-Japanese relations, just days before a crucial Lower House election, where the conservative Liberal Democratic Party is expected to take back power.

The fixed-wing plane, marked “CMS” was spotted near Uotsuri Island in the East China Sea at 11:06 a.m. local time, prompting Japan’s Air Self Defense Force to dispatch eight F-15 jets, according to the Ministry of Defense. Patrol boats in waters below warned the pilot to “stay out of our air space” over the radio, but the crew responded “this is Chinese air space,” according to the Japanese Coast Guard.

The aircraft left without incident, but Fujimura called the move “extremely deplorable,” on a day when Chinese ships were also spotted in territorial waters.

“It is extremely regrettable that, on top of that, an intrusion into our airspace has been committed in this way,” he said.

Not to be outdone, China has now filed a protest as well:

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Japan should halt entries into seas and airspace near disputed islets in the East China Sea, after Japan protested a flight over the islands by a Chinese plane.

The politics of the claims and counterclaims is somewhat confusing, particularly since it is a rare point of agreement between Beijing and Taiwan.  Both claim that the Senkaku Islands belong to China, but then again, both claim to be China.  They are much closer in proximity to Taiwan and China than mainland Japan, but Japan has claimed sovereignty for more than a century, annexing them in 1895. No one much cared about it until 1968, when oil was discovered nearby, and sovereignty became much more of an economic issue for the uninhabited islands.

It seems unlikely that the two rational governments in Beijing and Tokyo would allow this to come to a hot war between the two countries, especially given the small stakes involved.  Still, these kind of confrontations can end in very irrational ways, and further provocations from China might touch off something very ugly in the East China Sea.


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Kings of the East anyone ….

conservative tarheel on December 13, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Yeah, right before the election. I wonder if this’ll give one of the new smaller conservative parties some extra seats.

Dongemaharu on December 13, 2012 at 8:54 AM

I don’t feel all that sorry for Japan. Maybe we forget, but China never will about the Rape of Nanking and a gazillion other Jap atrocities. Hell’s bells! The Japs don’t tell their own schoolchildren about their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says if you haven’t waited twenty years for revenge, you have been too hasty.

Liam on December 13, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Don’t they have an archduke to kill?

Archivarix on December 13, 2012 at 8:57 AM

China probably thinks the weak Japanese government doesn’t have the balls to confront them. They better be careful, they’re not messing with Tibet this time. The Japanese Self Defense Forces are not only well trained but they have a surprisingly large 750,000 man armed forces–enough to cause catastrophic losses to the new Chinese navy.

MaiDee on December 13, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Liam on December 13, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Yeah well the “Japs” don’t throw their own citizens into a gulag system or harvest the organs of their criminal inmates for Party family members. So we can either go on history or current events, I’ll take current events.

Bishop on December 13, 2012 at 9:09 AM

So,the Land of the Rising Sun,is getting the
US scrambles the jets/Ruskie Bears penetrating
NORAD AirSpace smpin sumpin Part Deux!!

Er wait,fighter jets not,bombers!!

canopfor on December 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM

It’s like a Clavell novel come to life. Send in the Samurai.

Slade73 on December 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Japanese forced the
Chinese to land,kinda like the ordeal back when!

US spy plane held in clash with China
12:00AM BST 02 Apr 2001

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1315089/US-spy-plane-held-in-clash-with-China.html
===========================================

China accuses U.S. plane of ramming fighter jet

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-35112/China-accuses-U-S-plane-ramming-fighter-jet.html

canopfor on December 13, 2012 at 9:21 AM

I don’t feel all that sorry for Japan. Maybe we forget, but China never will about the Rape of Nanking and a gazillion other Jap atrocities.

Liam on December 13, 2012 at 8:57 AM

I tend to side with Japan in this dispute (shocker!), but it is mildly interesting that this particular incident comes on the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Rape of Nanjing.

DarkCurrent on December 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

It seems unlikely that the two rational governments in Beijing and Tokyo would allow this to come to a hot war between the two countries, especially given the small stakes involved

You analysis in this line is incorrect. The stakes are quite involved. This is about more than just the senkau islands.This is about the entire south Chine sea and the greater south eastern pacific. There are more than 2 dozen island chains in dispute. The entire region is considered to be mineral rich. The nation that can sucessfully project power over Senkaku will likely project power of the entire region.

paulsur on December 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Chinese testing response time.

fossten on December 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Meanwhile…..in SyrianGoonsVille….

Syria denies using Scuds against rebels
By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
— Dec. 13 9:19 AM EST
**********************

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/bomb-explodes-near-syrian-capital#overlay-context=article/israeli-troops-clash-palestinian-protesters

canopfor on December 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

China and Japan are the two major players in this region, with Taiwan, The Phillipines, Vietnam, and South Korea all claiming interests to disputed territory. So you see if either Japan or China are seen backing down, or even compomising, it lets all the players know what they are gonna be able to squeeze out of this.
Of course some kind of economic cooperation is probably best for everyone, but we are talking about nations that have been competing and fighting with each other since the dawn of history. There isnt much history of these nations cooperating with each other.

paulsur on December 13, 2012 at 9:38 AM

especially given the small stakes involved

I think it is a little early to call these small stakes. Large parts of the last world war were fought over access to petroleum. Japan invaded the Malaya Penninsula and tried to invade the Indonesian islands with petroleum as a major reason. Similarly Germany invaded Roumania and parts of the USSR primarily for oil. The most dangerous with the bigest losses (and bigest?) strategic air raid in Europe was to destroy the Polesky Roumania oil refinery after the Germans ooccupied it.

burt on December 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

…I wonder if our government had anything to say…to our banker?

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 9:56 AM

…I wonder if our government had anything to say…to our banker?

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Which one?

DarkCurrent on December 13, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Middle East on fire, N Korea, Japan, China, etc..saber rattling, U.S. going of the fiscal cliff. What’s Obama doing? Hawaii baby!!!

vcferlita on December 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Middle East on fire, N Korea, Japan, China, etc..saber rattling, U.S. going of the fiscal cliff. What’s Obama doing? Hawaii baby!!!

vcferlita on December 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM

the Iwon knows that he has to take care of himself first so he can take care
of everything else /s
besides he is a master of 12level chess … he can fix this in his sleep/s

conservative tarheel on December 13, 2012 at 10:11 AM

…China sent a government aircraft into Japanese airspace to surveil the uninhabited Senkaku Islands.

“Gilligan, quick! Light the torches…”

apostic on December 13, 2012 at 10:52 AM

It seems unlikely that the two rational governments in Beijing and Tokyo would allow this to come to a hot war between the two countries, especially given the small stakes involved.

You analysis in this line is incorrect. The stakes are quite involved. This is about more than just the senkau islands.This is about the entire south Chine sea and the greater south eastern pacific. There are more than 2 dozen island chains in dispute. The entire region is considered to be mineral rich. The nation that can sucessfully project power over Senkaku will likely project power of the entire region.

paulsur on December 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Thanks for doing your part to educate the writers at HA.

slickwillie2001 on December 13, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Can we do a three or four way swap involving these islands for North Korea?

Considering the attitudes of the people we have been protecting for over half a century in South Korea*, China shouldn’t be worried about “Western Hegemony” even if we made the North our “ally” after the trade..and think of the foreign aid China would save….

BTW, going for the Dems in droves in the last election, the remarks of a pop star, wow, those Asians really can be inscrutable.

* See “Gangnam Style” ( 강남스타일 ) and comments on killing US soldiers.

IlikedAUH2O on December 13, 2012 at 10:57 AM

They are much closer in proximity to Taiwan and China than mainland Japan, but Japan has claimed sovereignty for more than a century, annexing them in 1895.

I’m pretty sure Taiwan wouldn’t recognize “annexed in 1895” as justification for sovereignty….

calbear on December 13, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Hmm… if I had to guess, I’d say it was an ELINT bird.

The ChiComs would use the opportunity to monitor and record the signals traffic, and determine who was the primary command mode in the chain of Japan’s reaction to the air incursion.

The next step will reveal how the ChiComs are gaming it out.

My advice to the JMSDF… step up your ASW assets in the area. Unlike the Spratly’s, there’s deep water around the Senkaku’s. The ChiComs will want to determine if they can run undetected patrols in the area.

This isn’t even remotely over… and the Japanese dare not blink.

And the ChiComs are hoping they can pull off the seizure of the islands, and thereby the immediate region, without Japanese nationalism reaching its flash point… IMO, it’s a fool’s gamble.

And they will come to regret it in the long run.

CPT. Charles on December 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

This isn’t even remotely over… and the Japanese dare not blink.

And the ChiComs are hoping they can pull off the seizure of the islands, and thereby the immediate region, without Japanese nationalism reaching its flash point… IMO, it’s a fool’s gamble.

And they will come to regret it in the long run.

CPT. Charles on December 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

It might not be over for 30 ~ 60 years. Right now the Chinese (currently PRC and ROC) are just making sure there’s a record of a long-standing dispute before they can eventually take them without much Japanese resistance.

DarkCurrent on December 13, 2012 at 11:32 AM

DarkCurrent on December 13, 2012 at 11:32 AM

While I totally agree with your view of the Chinese preference of the ‘long game’, your scenario will go up in smoke the same week the Japanese issue permits for exploratory drilling about the Senkaku’s.

Bank on it.

CPT. Charles on December 13, 2012 at 11:44 AM

While I totally agree with your view of the Chinese preference of the ‘long game’, your scenario will go up in smoke the same week the Japanese issue permits for exploratory drilling about the Senkaku’s.

Bank on it.

CPT. Charles on December 13, 2012 at 11:44 AM

If that were to happen in the near term you’d be right, but I don’t expect that to happen in the near term. Do you?

DarkCurrent on December 13, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Japan needs to go nuclear now. That’s the only thing that can guarantee their safety from the nutball dictatorship in Red China. Build 100-150 weapons and a silo system to shelter them.

slickwillie2001 on December 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM

I don’t feel all that sorry for Japan. Maybe we forget, but China never will about the Rape of Nanking and a gazillion other Jap atrocities. Hell’s bells! The Japs don’t tell their own schoolchildren about their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says if you haven’t waited twenty years for revenge, you have been too hasty.

Liam on December 13, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Mao and the communist party killed far more Chinese than the Japanese did. How come the communist party in China has not apologize to their own people or tell the truth about the slaughters committed by their party?

There is a major difference between Japan and China. Japan is no longer run by the militarist who committed those atrocities in places like Nanking. They now have a democratic system and elect their leaders. Over last 60 plus years they have been a reliable ally (or as close an ally as you can expect in this world).

China on the other hand, despite their move to a more free economic system, is still run by the same political party as the one who killed millions of their own people. They are the same political party who has a military that is loyal to a party, not a state. They are the same party who still denies political freedom and individual liberties to their people. If they do that to their own people, what will they do to other peoples who are not Chinese?

I live in the world today, and judge people and nations for what they do now, not 70 years ago. Any American who has a love of freedom and liberty, not to mention understands the strategic importance of Japan to the U.S. due to its location, has to side with Japan in this.

William Eaton on December 13, 2012 at 12:56 PM

no doubt that the Chinese have not forgotten about Nanking, and that this happened on the 75th anniversary…

burserker on December 13, 2012 at 1:10 PM

DarkCurrent on December 13, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Given the current behavior of the PRC government towards all its SCS neighbors (and don’t think the Japanese aren’t playing attention), and the internally-sanctioned violence towards Japanese interests within the PRC… don’t bet on it.

All it would take is pushing the right ‘hot button’ at the wrong time… the combination of the Chinese stance, as demanded by their Constitutional amendment, and their palatable arrogance towards their neighbors could very well compel the Japanese to double down.

In addition, the PRC has undergone a leadership change, and I’d take note of the lack of obvious anger towards the Nork’s latest missile launch (as compared to their notable anger over the previous failed launch…).

This may denote a new dynamic within the PRC government… and that factions within it may be asserting their positions. The PLA and Foreign Ministry are not on the same page these past few years.

China watchers would do well to not stay married to ‘conventional wisdom’ concerning the PRC’s future behavior.

CPT. Charles on December 13, 2012 at 1:11 PM

I’m pretty sure Taiwan wouldn’t recognize “annexed in 1895” as justification for sovereignty….

calbear on December 13, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Plus Taiwan is not even a country according to the China and the UN. Taiwan better worry about the PLA winning this. China’s next move will be to regain Taiwan, another “core interest”.

William Eaton on December 13, 2012 at 1:12 PM

They should just employ Megan Fox and run her as a candidate. It would be cheaper and more effective.

lexhamfox on December 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

lexhamfox on December 13, 2012 at 1:37 PM

lol wrong thread.

lexhamfox on December 13, 2012 at 1:38 PM