A riot police officer stands guard next to a flag of a
rising sun near the Russian embassy during protest
demanding Russia return a group of islands, called Northern
Territories by Tokyo and Southern Kuriles by Moscow, in
Tokyo yesterday. REUTERS/Yuya Shino
Russia denied its fighter jets had entered Japanese air
space on Thursday after Tokyo scrambled combat fighters and
lodged a protest over what it said was an intrusion near the
northern island of Hokkaido.
Russia has been holding military manoeuvres around the
disputed Kurile islands this week.
"Flights of military aircraft are ... carried out in strict
accordance with the international rules governing air space
and do not violate the border of other states," a Defence
Ministry spokesman, Colonel Alexander Gordeyev, told Interfax
"All flights by the air forces in the region are strictly
regulated by the joint command and are carried out under the
supervision of air traffic control," said Gordeyev, the
spokesman for Russia's Eastern Military District.
Thursday was Japan's "Northern Territories Day", when rallies
are traditionally held calling for the return of disputed
islands off Hokkaido and are likely to heighten tensions with
Russia over the contested territories.