Air Self-Defense Force jets were scrambled in response to Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese territory 138 times between October and December, the Defense Ministry said Jan. 21.
The number marked a significant increase from the figure recorded before China designated its air defense identification zone over the East China Sea in November. There were only 80 scrambles against Chinese aircraft from July to September.
In the April-December period, ASDF fighters were scrambled a total of 563 times--287 for Chinese aircraft, 246 for Russian aircraft and nine for North Korean aircraft.
The nine-month tally was almost on par with the total of 567 in fiscal 2012.
The sharp increase is attributed to the growing number of scrambles ordered against Chinese and Russian aircraft.
One of the scrambles occurred July 24, when a Chinese Y-8 airborne early warning plane flew between Okinawa Prefecture’s main island and Miyakojima island in southern Japan for the first time.
Two Chinese H-6 bombers flew along the same route Sept. 8.
ASDF jets were scrambled to intercept Chinese aircraft 306 times in fiscal 2012, the most since the ministry started gathering data for each country in fiscal 2001.
But the number for the current fiscal year is expected to far exceed that, according to the ministry.
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