TOKYO, Feb 7 (KUNA) -- Japan's Defense Ministry said two Russian warplanes
briefly intruded into Japanese airspace Thursday, prompting its air force to
scramble fighter planes.
According to the ministry, two Russian Su-27 fighters entered Japanese
airspace about a minute in the afternoon off the Coast of Rishiri Island in
Hokkaido, northern Japan.
Air Self-Defense Force scrambled four F-2 fighter jets, while it warned the
Russian planes by radio to leave Japan's airspace. The Foreign Ministry lodged
a protest with the Russian Embassy in Tokyo over the incident, the first such
intrusion in five years.
Thursday's intrusion occurred as Japan was observing "Northern Territories
Day," when the government holds annual rallies urging Russia to return the
disputed islands. It was the first intrusion by Russian jets into Japanese
airspace since Feb. 9, 2008.
At the rally in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to promote
negotiations with Russia for the return of the Russian-controlled islands
claimed by Japan. "I will do my best to resolve the territorial dispute and
realize the signing of a peace treaty," Abe said in a speech.
The disputed islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the
Southern Kurils in Russia, lie north of Japan's northernmost main island of
The Soviet Union seized the four islands after Japan's surrender in World
War II in 1945 and expelled their Japanese residents.
Japan insists the Northern Territories are not part of the Kuril chain of
islands which it renounced under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty with the
Allies, while Moscow claims otherwise.
The territorial dispute has prevented the two nations from concluding a
peace treaty to formally end WWII and discouraged investment in Russia by
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