• Reuters

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Fighter jet scrambles by the Air Self-Defense Force fell by half in the April-June period to 173 from a year earlier, the Defense Ministry said.

Scrambles against Russian planes posted a one-off spike in the second quarter of 2014, and the quarterly decline this year does not necessarily mean an overall slowdown in Russian military activities in the region, a Defense Ministry official said Wednesday.

Scrambles against Chinese planes rose 10 percent to 114 in the second quarter, while those against Russian aircraft fell 76 percent to 57, the ministry said.

The announcement on the scramble data came a few hours after bills that would allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, or militarily aiding a friendly country under attack, were approved by a Lower House panel.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government says a tougher security environment surrounding Japan, underscored by an increase in the number of scrambles and North Korea’s nuclear project, calls for a tougher security policy.

In the fiscal year that ended in March, ASDF scrambles reached a level not seen since the height of the Cold War three decades ago due in part to the surge in the number of approaching flights against Russian aircraft.

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