Planes and Coast Guard ships from both countries regularly tail one another around a chain of uninhabited islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Tensions over the dispute have led to a deterioration in Sino-Japanese relations at a time when both countries are increasing military spending.
The total number of times Japanese jets were sent up reached 810 in the year to the end of March, compared with 567 the previous year, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement on its website yesterday. Dispatches against Chinese aircraft made up 51 percent of the total, with the bulk of the remainder against Russian planes and nine against North Korea, according to the press release.
China’s Defense Minister Chang Wanquan this week accused Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of taking provocative actions around the islands and said his country would never back down on its territorial claims. Chang made his remarks at a press conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Beijing, who reiterated that the U.S. was committed to defending Japan in the event of a conflict.
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