ASDF scrambles fighter jets against Russian bombers

Kyodo, JIJI

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets after a pair of Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bombers were detected flying in a circuit around the Japanese archipelago Thursday, the Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff office said.

The bombers did not violate Japanese airspace, and the announcement that fighter jets were scrambled against Russian military planes was the first since May 21.

The two bombers flew over the Sea of Japan east of the Korean Peninsula before moving to the East China Sea and then the Pacific Ocean to fly back toward Sakhalin Island, according to the SDF Joint Staff office.

Russian media also reported Thursday that the country’s navy had prevented a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine from approaching its territorial waters.

Antisubmarine forces from the Russian Pacific Fleet detected the Oyashio-class submarine in the north of the La Perouse Strait on Wednesday and stopped it near the maritime boundary between the two countries, the Kommersant business daily reported, citing a Russian Defense Ministry source.

The strait, located between Hokkaido and Sakhalin, is known as Soya Strait in Japan.

A source at the Russian General Staff was quoted by ITAR-Tass news agency as saying that the Japanese submarine passed through the strait and did not cross the Russian border.

Russia rarely makes the activities of Japanese submarines public. The move may be in response to Japan’s decision to impose economic sanctions against Moscow over its role in the Ukraine crisis.

Last week, Russia began military exercises on Kunashiri and Etorofu, two of the four Japanese-claimed islands off Hokkaido that were seized by the former Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

Tokyo has lodged a protest with Moscow through diplomatic channels over the exercises. But Russia has rejected it, claiming the islands as its own.