The Japanese defense minister said Chinese and Russian warplanes had flown a joint flight to Japan on Tuesday as leaders of the quad bloc met in Tokyo.
Nobuo Kishi said the government had expressed “deep concern” to Russia and China over the flight, which came at a time when leaders from the United States, India, Australia and Japan were discussing regional security.
The planes did not violate regional airspace, the Defense Ministry told AFP, and the fourth long-haul joint Russian-Chinese flight was seen near Japan since November.
“Two Chinese bombers joined two Russian bombers in the Sea of Japan and made a joint flight in the East China Sea,” Kishi told reporters.
“After that, a total of four aircraft, two supposed (new) Chinese bombers – instead of two Chinese bombers – and two Russian bombers operate a joint flight from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean.”
He said a Russian spy-gathering plane had flown from northern Hokkaido to the central Japanese island of Noto on Tuesday, calling the move “particularly provocative” because of the summit in Tokyo.
Quad leaders on Tuesday warned against attempts to “change the situation by force”, although they avoided direct mention of Russia or China in a joint statement.
Although their statement referred to the war in Ukraine and listed various activities that Beijing has been regularly accused of in the region.
Kishi said Japan had “communicated through diplomatic channels about our serious concerns about the security of our country and the region”.
“As the international community reacts to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, it is a matter of concern that China has taken such a step in cooperation with aggressive Russia. It cannot be ignored.”
Japan, which has strained relations and border disputes with neighboring China, Russia and South Korea, regularly sends jets to defend its airspace.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the country has scrambled 1,004 military jets since March last year, the second highest on record.
Most had to deal with approaching Chinese aircraft, although many of the rest were involved with Russian aircraft.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)