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  Military
Japan scrambles fighter jets as Russian warplanes intrude into airspace
07/02/2013 | LOC19:18
16:18 GMT
| World News
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
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 Hokkaido.
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 Japan. (end) mk.hs KUNA 071918 Feb 13NNNN
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