UK & World News
Senkaku Islands: Japan Sends Jets in China Row
Japan has scrambled fighter jets to head off a Chinese government plane flying towards islands that are the source of tension between the two countries.
The Chinese Y-12 propeller plane went into Japan's air defence identification zone around 99 miles away from airspace surrounding the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, which Japan controls but Beijing claims as its own and calls the Diaoyu Islands.
A Japanese defence ministry official said the aircraft headed back towards China without entering the contested airspace after the jets became airborne.
The incident in the East China Sea is the first since China created its air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in November, a move which further strained relations.
Chinese government ships and planes have been spotted off the islands numerous times since Japan nationalised them in 2012.
Earlier this week, a Chinese chef crash-landed into the sea while trying to fly a hot-air balloon to the disputed islands.
There are fears an escalation in the row could have far-reaching repercussions, drawing in Japan's ally, the United States.
The islands are strategically important because they are close to international shipping lanes, offer abundant opportunities for fishing and could potentially lie close to rich oil and gas reserves.
Japan and China have also recently been involved in a diplomatic war of words, with ambassadors from both comparing the other country to Lord Voldermort, the Harry Potter villain.
In a Daily Telegraph article last week, the Chinese ambassador to the UK criticised Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to a controversial shrine seen as the repository of around 2.5 million souls of the country's war dead.
This includes several high-level officials who were executed for war crimes after the Second World War, which saw Japan invade China.
Liu Xiaoming wrote: "If militarism is like the haunting Voldermort of Japan, the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo is a kind of horcrux, representing the darkest parts of that nation's soul."
In the same newspaper his Japanese counterpart Keiichi Hayashi said that China risked becoming the "Lord Voldermort of East Asia".
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