China fighters within meters of Japan military planes: minister
by The Daily Lede
“This is a close encounter that is outright over the top.” —Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera
(Reuters) – Chinese fighter jets flew within a few dozen meters of Japanese military planes over the East China Sea, Japanese officials said on Sunday, prompting the defense minister to accuse Beijing of going “over the top” in its approach to disputed territory.
Chinese SU-27 fighters came as close as 50 meters (170 feet) to a Japanese OP-3C surveillance plane near disputed islets on Saturday and within 30 meters of YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft, the ministry said.
“Closing in while flying normally over the high seas is impossible,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters in comments broadcast on TV Asahi.
“This is a close encounter that is outright over the top.”
Onodera said Japan conveyed its concerns to the Chinese side through diplomatic channels. He also said the Chinese planes were carrying missiles.
A ministry official said it was the closest Chinese warplanes had come to aircraft of Japan’s Self-defense force.
China’s foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.