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Japan scrambled its fighter jets in response to aircraft approaching its airspace 561 times in the first half of fiscal 2017 through September — 33 fewer than last year’s record-setting figure but still the second-highest total ever for the period, the Defense Ministry has said.

While the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets last year at a record pace as China’s military sought to break out farther into the western Pacific, incidents involving Chinese aircraft in this year’s first half fell to 287, or 51 percent of the total, down 120 from the previous year.

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