World

Japan scrambling warplanes as often as Cold War era amid growing activity by China, Russia

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2013 file photo taken by Japan Air Self-Defense Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan, Russian fighter jet SU-27 flies over the sea off the Japanese island of Hokkaido when the Defense Ministry said two SU-27 jets, including the one shown in this photo, briefly intruded into Japanese airspace in the afternoon off the coast of Rishiri island on Hokkaido's west coast, prompting Japan’s air force to scramble jets. Japan's government said Wednesday, April 15, 2015 that the number of scrambles by the country's warplanes has surged in recent years to levels nearly matching the Cold War era amid growing activity by China and Russia in the region. (The Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan via AP, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2013 file photo taken by Japan Air Self-Defense Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan, Russian fighter jet SU-27 flies over the sea off the Japanese island of Hokkaido when the Defense Ministry said two SU-27 jets, including the one shown in this photo, briefly intruded into Japanese airspace in the afternoon off the coast of Rishiri island on Hokkaido's west coast, prompting Japan’s air force to scramble jets. Japan's government said Wednesday, April 15, 2015 that the number of scrambles by the country's warplanes has surged in recent years to levels nearly matching the Cold War era amid growing activity by China and Russia in the region. (The Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Japan's government says the number of scrambles by the country's warplanes has surged in recent years to levels nearly matching the Cold War era amid growing activity by China and Russia in the region.

The Defense Ministry said Wednesday that the Self Air-Defense Force scrambled its jets 943 times during a 12-month period through March 31, just one short of the record set in 1984. The scrambles were dominated by those against Chinese and Russian aircraft.

The ministry reported 133 more scrambles than the previous year, underscoring growing tension in the region.

Scrambled Chinese aircraft were mainly fighter jets approaching the disputed East China Sea islands, a main cause of a diplomatic dispute between the two countries.

The ministry said none violated Japanese airspace.