published Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Japan talk of warning shots heats up China dispute

Japanese activists hold the national flags on Uotsuri island, one of the islands of Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, in East China Sea.
Japanese activists hold the national flags on Uotsuri island, one of the islands of Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, in East China Sea.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TOKYO — Japan says it may fire warning shots and take other measures to keep foreign aircraft from violating its airspace in the latest verbal blast between Tokyo and Beijing that raises concerns that a dispute over hotly contested islands could spin out of control.

Japanese officials made the comments after Chinese fighters tailed its warplanes near the islands recently. The incident is believed to be the first scrambling of Chinese fighters since the tensions began to rise last spring.

According to Chinese media, a pair of J-10 fighters was scrambled after Japanese F-15s began tailing a Chinese surveillance plane near the disputed islands in the East China Sea. China has complained the surveillance flight did not violate Japanese airspace and the F-15s were harassing it.

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