Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets scrambled against Chinese aircraft 138 times in the last three months of 2013, second only to first three months of last year, when they scrambled 146 times, the Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff said Tuesday.
The ministry has been closely monitoring Chinese air activities amid heightened tension over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, especially after China included airspace above the islets as part of an air defense identification zone it designated in November.
The ministry, which has released scramble data for every three-month period since fiscal 2005, said ASDF fighters scrambled against Chinese aircraft that came close to Japanese airspace 69 times from April to June, and 80 times from July to September.
Many of the Chinese aircraft of concern during the latest period were fighters.
The ASDF scrambled fighters against Russian aircraft 110 times from October to December, compared with 105 times during the preceding three months.