It seems that Russia’s territorial claims do not end with Crimea. A series of Russian military aircraft flights were seen taking place “abnormally” close to some islands off Japan, which had Self-Defense Forces scrambling jet fighters to ward them off.
The flights made by a number of Russian aircrafts are becoming more frequent, according to Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. Last week alone, Japan scrambled jets heading into their airspace for seven days in a row, with the most number of Russian aircrafts flying on Friday. Six TU-95 bombers flew by in pairs near Okinawa and over the Sea of Japan, but ended up avoiding Japanese airspace. As it remains unclear why Russia is flying aircrafts into the area, Onodera told reporters that they already closely monitoring the situation.
Russia is currently engaged in a territorial dispute with Japan over the Southern Kurils, which Japan claims sovereignty over and calls the Northern Territories. Bilateral ties between the two nations continue to be strained since the end of the Cold War era because of the dispute. However, moves to reconcile and discuss the territories were initiated by the two nations in recent times, with summits between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Russia recently announced that it would start building military compounds on the disputed islands to be completed by 2016, it remains unclear whether the progress made by the two leaders in reconciling their strained ties would have been for nothing.