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Japanese warplanes were deployed to disputed islets in the East China Sea, as Chinese Coast Guard vessels entered the troubled waters and allegedly launched a military drone. Beijing claimed instead the drone belonged to “relevant media.”
Japan scrambled two F-15 fighter jets, one E-2C early warning aircraft, and an AWACS surveillance plane on Thursday as China Coast Guard vessel 2308 entered the waters surrounding the disputed East China Sea islets and deployed a “object that looks like a drone, ” according to a Japanese Defense Ministry statement.
The Senkaku islets are controlled by Japan, but also claimed by China and Taiwan – which Beijing considers part of its territory.
While it was the 13th “intrusion” of the Chinese ships this year, it was the very first drone flight witnessed by Japanese officials, Reuters reported, citing the Japanese Coast Guard.
“This is escalating the situation and absolutely unacceptable, ” Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said, according to Reuters. “We regard this as a serious infringement of Japan’s sovereignty.”
The director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, Kenji Kanasugi, made a stern protest over the incident to the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo by phone, according to Reuters, citing ministry officials.

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