Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets were scrambled against Chinese aircraft 138 times in the recent October-to-December period, second only to the three-month period through last March when Japanese fighter aircraft were scrambled 146 times, the Defense Ministry's Joint Staff said Tuesday.
The ministry has been closely monitoring Chinese air activities amid heightened tension between Japan and China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, especially after China included airspace above the islets as part of an air defense identification zone it designated in November.
The ministry, which has released scramble data for every three-month period since fiscal 2005, said ASDF fighters were scrambled against Chinese aircraft that came close to Japanese airspace 69 times between April and June, and 80 times between July and September.
Many of the Chinese aircraft concerned during the latest period were fighter jets.
Against Russian aircraft, ASDF fighters were scrambled 110 times between October and December, compared to 105 times during the preceding three-month period.