Japan scrambled fighter jets to intercept foreign aircraft approaching its airspace at a record pace in the fiscal year to March, figures released by the Defense Ministry have shown,as China's military sought to break out further into the Western Pacific.

The 1,168 scrambles were the most since records began being kept in 1958, besting the previous high of 944 — a figure that came at the height of the Cold War in 1984.

Of the total, 851 scrambles, or 73 percent, came in response to Chinese flights, 280 more than in the previous fiscal year. The figure was the largest since the Air Self-Defense Force began publicizing the number of scrambles against each country.