Japan said Monday it had scrambled jets in recent days as Chinese fighter planes landed and took off from an aircraft carrier deployed near southern Japan and Taiwan.
The Shandong aircraft carrier has been moving in waters southeast of Taiwan as China responds to a meeting between the island’s president and the US House speaker.
In a statement, Japan’s joint staff said it had observed the Shandong and several other Chinese naval vessels in the area south of Miyako island since Friday.
It listed the Kuznetsov-class Shandong, along with a Luyang III-class missile destroyer, a Jiangkai II-class frigate and a Fuyu-class fast combat support ship.
The vessels were spotted between 230 and 430 kilometres (140 and 270 miles) south of Miyako island, in the far south of Japan, the statement said.
“We confirmed approximately 120 landings and departures on the Chinese navy’s Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Shandong, 80 times by fighter aircraft and 40 times by helicopters,” the statement said.
Japanese forces mobilised two escort groups to surveil the Chinese vessels and “Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets scrambled in response to the landing and take-off of the fighter jets on board” the Shandong, the statement added.
Tokyo first confirmed the three vessels were moving in areas near southern Japan’s Okinawa region last Thursday.
The defence ministry said it was the first time it had confirmed the Shandong’s operation in the Pacific Ocean through first-hand surveillance.