Two Russian fighters have violated Japan’s air space on Thursday, according to Japanese defense ministry, in what is reported to be the first such incident in the last five years.
The Russian Su-27 fighters were observed off the island of Hokkaido for about a minute and four Japanese F-2 fighters were sent at the location to confirm the presence of the Russian planes.
“Today, around 3 p.m., military fighters belonging to Russian Federation breached our nation’s airspace above territorial waters off Hokkaido’s Rishiri island,” the foreign ministry said.
The last such incident took place in February 2008.
However, Russia denied any connection to the event. “Flights by the air force of the Pacific Fleet take place regularly in this region, in strict adherence to the international rules, without violation of state borders,” spokesman for the military command’s eastern district, Roman Martov, said.
The incident came soon after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed conciliatory statements toward Moscow concerning the Southern Kurils, administered by Russia, also known in Japan as the Northern Territories.
“There is no change in my resolve to do everything I can towards sealing a peace treaty with Russia after resolving the issue of the Northern Territories,” Abe said.
In December, Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to start again talks on signing a peace treaty that would officially end the hostilities of World War II that has been stymied by the dispute.