TOKYO, June 13 Japan on Friday denied Beijing's
claims that its Self-Defence Force planes came "dangerously
close" to Chinese aircraft in an incident over the East China
Sea on Wednesday, demanding China takes down the footage
allegedly showing the incident.
On Thursday, China said two Japanese F-15 planes followed a
Chinese Tu-154 aircraft and came as close as 30 metres,
"seriously affecting China's flight safety". It posted a video
allegedly showing that incident on the defence ministry website.
"We believe there is no truth in China's assertions that
Japanese fighter planes came within 30 meters of a Chinese plane
and severely affected the flight's safety," Japanese Chief
Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
"The airplanes (in the video) are different," he said in
response to a reporter's question about the rationale behind
Japan's assertion, adding Japan lodged a protest late on
Thursday and demanded that Beijing take down the footage.
The latest exchange followed a protest lodged by Tokyo on
Wednesday, when Japan said Chinese fighter jets flew "abnormally
close" to Japanese military aircraft over the East China Sea, a
charge Beijing rejected accusing Tokyo of trying to "deceive
The row is the latest flare up in a long-running territorial
dispute between Asia's largest economies. It follows a similar
incident on May 24, when Japan said Chinese aircraft had come
within a few dozen metres of its warplanes.
China lays claim to Japanese-administered islets in the East
China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. China
declared its air defence zone covering most of the East China
Sea last year despite protests by Japan and the United States.
Suga reiterated Japan's request to quickly establish
emergency communication mechanism between the two countries so
that they can deal with crisis situations.
Japan scrambled fighter jets against Chinese planes 415
times in the year ended in March, up 36 percent on the year,
while in waters near the disputed islands, patrol ships from
both countries have been playing cat-and-mouse, raising fears of
an accidental clash.
(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)