Japan’s Defense Ministry scrambled several Air Self Defense Force fighter jets against a pair of Russian Tu-142 planes that flew around the country this Thursday. While the two patrol planes were in no direct violation of the Japanese airspace, it still caused a major concern for the ministry, which has been monitoring Russian military activities in light of recent similar incidents.
Russian planes were seen circulating the archipelago in March much in the same way the Tu-142s were monitored Thursday. In March, patrol planes flew over the Sea of Japan in a southward direction from the west of Hokkaido and passed through the Tsushima Strait between Japan and South Korea, and also into the area between Okinawa’s main island and Miyako Island on their way to the Pacific Ocean. The Defense Ministry also reported that the aircraft were seen moving northward from the island of Izu towards the Russian-controlled islands near Hokkaido, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils by Moscow, then flew towards Sakhalin in Russia.
An ongoing territorial dispute over Japan’s claim on the Russian-held islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomai has kept the two countries from having any peaceful foreign relations, and has even prevented the two nations from signing a post-World War II peace treaty.