Russian bombers trigger protest

Kyodo

Japan will protest to Russia via diplomatic channels about two bombers that buzzed its airspace, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Friday.

“We will deal with the matter appropriately based on Russia’s response,” he said a day after the bombers looped around Japan.

Fujimura said it is not the first time Russian aircraft have flown around Japan but noted that the incident was unusual because the bombers flew over a long distance and were refueled in midair.

The Defense Ministry said the two Russian planes flew around Japan from the south over the Tsushima Strait off Nagasaki Prefecture to the area near the disputed islands off Hokkaido via the Pacific Ocean, and that Air Self-Defense Force fighters were scrambled out of concern the bombers might violate Japanese airspace.

The ministry found out later that there was no such violation.

Russia’s Defense Ministry acknowledged that two Tu-95MS bombers flew over the Pacific and other areas for about 19 hours but stressed they did not violate other nations’ airspace, according to the Interfax news agency.

A spokesperson for the ministry said the turboprop strategic bombers were trailed by a total of 10 jets comprising South Korean fighters and SDF aircraft.