Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets scrambled nine times against North Korean military aircraft between April and June, the Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
The scrambles were the first against North Korean aircraft since 2009, when the reclusive state launched a long-range ballistic missile.
According to the ministry, between April and June, ASDF fighters scrambled nine times when North Korean aircraft flew over the Sea of Japan. But there were no intrusions into Japanese airspace, the ministry added.
The ministry believes North Korea was using its military aircraft in an attempt to gather information after the SDF deployed Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan against possible missile launches by the hermit state.
According to the ministry’s Joint Staff, ASDF fighters scrambled a total of 115 times between April and June, including 69 times against Chinese aircraft, the highest on a country basis, and 31 times against Russian aircraft.
Although the figure for Chinese aircraft fell from 146 in the period between January and March, a ministry official said the incidence was still high.
Before China’s gripe over the Japan-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea worsened last September, most ASDF scrambles were against Russian aircraft.