TOKYO, February 27. /TASS/. Members of the Japanese Defense Ministry have been recording the appearance of Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) near the country’s airspace borders in the East China Sea almost daily in recent years, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Monday citing a source in the military agency.
It is noted that an intrusion by a Chinese UAV was confirmed once: it occurred in May 2017 and lasted about five minutes. Lately, China’s authorities have stepped up the use of drones near Japan’s borders due to which the Japanese have scrambled their fighter planes 12 times since August 2021, the newspaper points out.
On February 17, the Japanese authorities announced their intention to amend the law to allow the Self-Defense Forces to take down foreign air balloons and drones violating the country’s airspace. The current legislation regulating the activity of the Self-Defense Forces gives them the right to scramble fighter jets to escort foreign aircraft and demand them to leave Japan’s territory if such a violation occurs. However, the use of weapons is permitted only in emergency situations and exclusively in self-defense.
On February 14, the Japanese Defense Ministry published the results of an investigation according to which unidentified aerial devices spotted in the country’s airspace in November 2019, January 2020 and September 2021 were most likely Chinese reconnaissance air balloons. An official remonstration and serious concern were expressed to the Chinese authorities. Beijing stressed that the Japanese lacked the necessary proof to support such accusations and expressed a reciprocal protest to the Japanese side.