Photo/IllutrationOne of the Russian TU-95 bombers intrudes into Japanese airspace on June 20. (Provided by the Defense Ministry)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets on June 20 after two Russian TU-95 bombers intruded into Japanese airspace on two separate occasions on the Pacific coast, the Defense Ministry said.

The ASDF jets were deployed from several bases to order the Russian bombers to leave Japanese airspace.

Foreign Ministry officials filed a formal protest with the Russian Embassy in Tokyo.

According to the Defense Ministry, the two TU-95 bombers entered Japan’s airspace over Minami-Daitojima island in Okinawa Prefecture for about three minutes from 8:53 a.m.

The bombers continued to fly in a northeasterly direction.

At 10:21 a.m., one of the bombers flew for about two minutes near Hachijojima island, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo metropolitan government.

The two bombers then passed over the disputed Northern Territories off the eastern coast of Hokkaido before flying in the direction of Sakhalin.

“From the flight route, it is difficult to consider the latest incident as an erroneous flight,” a high-ranking Defense Ministry official said.

According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, the Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement on June 20 denying any intrusion into Japanese airspace and contending that provisions of international law were strictly obeyed.

In September 2015, a jet believed to be Russian was confirmed to have flown in Japanese airspace above the Nemuro Peninsula on Hokkaido, according to Defense Ministry officials.

In fiscal 2018, ASDF jets were scrambled 343 times against Russian planes.

(This article was written by Yoshitaka Ito in Tokyo and Ryosuke Ishibashi in Moscow.)