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Jets East China Sea: Close military encounter, Japan or China planes to blame?

Jets in the East China Sea have created even more strain between Japan and China this week. Both nations are blaming the other for a recent too-close-for-comfort military encounter, further heightening tensions between them. News Max reports this Friday, June 13, 2014, that only 100 feet separated a Japanese fighter allegedly trailing a Chinese plane, while video of the precarious incident has been made public online.

Jets in East China Sea, Japan and China to blame?
Wikimedia Commons

Japanese officials are defending themselves from China’s Defense Ministry after the former said jets in the East China Sea have violated their own planes’ safety and compromised the overall security of the country. Both Japan and China are saying that the blame lies with the opposing country, and that the potential military encounter was indirectly caused by the other. This Thursday, a Japanese F-15 fighter allegedly trailed a Chinese TU-154 plane during a routine patrol mission, coming as close to following it nearly 30 meters (100 feet) behind.

An alleged pair of videos has been released by Chinese government officials, who said that the jet considerably “affected” the safety of the plane. At this time, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga offered a statement saying that the blame lies with China, as Japan denies its own fighter followed the Chinese aircraft without provocation. It argues that a pair of Chinese jets in the East China Sea were actually flying near to the Japanese plans, causing them a potential threat instead.

"Chinese criticism is irrelevant," Suga added.

As of this Thursday, the CS Monitor reports that Japan has officially filed a diplomatic protest with officials in Beijing following the close military encounter. Foreign Ministry authorities also made contact with the ambassador from China to discuss the security breach on the opposing side. A spokeswoman for China’s own Foreign Ministry countered these claims:

"China strongly opposes and protests Japan's act of ignoring the facts, shifting the blame onto the victim, aggressive slandering and hyping the so-called China threat."

National strains between Japan and China have escalated in the past decade, mostly due to the Senkaku (Japanese) and the Diaoyu (Chinese), a set of islands that exist in compromised territory. Although no one currently lives on the small islands, China claims ownership over them, yet it is Japan that has official control of the area. Dangerously near exchanges between fighters and other aircraft have come as a result due to the increased amount of military planes and patrol ships being placed in the disputed territory.

"The latest incident occurred despite our strong protest and request for preventive efforts following the previous incident, and the government of Japan takes it extremely seriously," Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki told reporters after meeting with Ambassador Cheng Yonghua.

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