On Tuesday, Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said that Chinese and Russian warplanes neared the country’s airspace while the Quad Summit was in progress. The gathering is being hosted by Tokyo this year, and is being attended by leaders of the member countries – Australia, India, the United States – at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Russia and China were conveyed the “grave concerns” by Tokyo through diplomatic channels, as shared by Kishi at a press conference. Furthermore, he considered this incident a “provocation” considering it took place on the day of the Quad Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, and newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in attendance.
According to Kishi, two Chinese warplanes flew over the Sea of Japan from the East China Sea, and were joined by two Russian warplanes for a flight together back toward the East China Sea. Additionally, another Russian aircraft was observed flying off Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido towards central Japan’s Noto Peninsula on the country’s main island.
Following this, the two Chinese warplanes were replaced with what is believed to be another pair of Chinese aircraft, which flew with the Russian aircraft toward the Pacific Ocean. However, none of the aircraft entered the Japanese airspace, as per Kishi. The defence minister said, “We believe the fact that this action was taken during the Quad Summit makes it more provocative than in the past.” He added that this is the fourth such incident since November 2021.
In the meanwhile, both Russian and Chinese officials confirmed that they conducted a joint patrol. According to the Russian defence ministry, the patrol lasted for nearly 13 hours over the Sea of Japan and the East China sea. The Chinese defence ministry said that this was a part of an “annual military cooperation plan”.
A statement by the Chinese defence ministry read, “On May 24, both countries’ air forces organised and carried out a routine joint strategic mid-air patrol in the airspace above the Sea of Japan, East China Sea and Western Pacific maritime areas.”