Self-Defense Forces aircraft were scrambled to warn Chinese planes that neared Japanese airspace 345 times from April to September — the second highest figure ever recorded during the period — the Defense Ministry has announced.

The figure for the first half of fiscal 2018 was up by 58 from a year before and trailed only the 407 instances recorded in the first six months of fiscal 2016, the ministry said Friday.

According to the ministry, SDF aircraft scrambled a total of 561 times in April-September this year, unchanged from the same period last year.

The number of scrambles against Chinese planes, mainly fighters, accounted for 61 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, the number of scrambles against Russian aircraft, mainly reconnaissance planes, came to 211, down by 56 and accounting for 38 percent of the total.

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