Japan scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese plane was seen Thursday near small islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by both countries. This is the first time that the dispute over the islands — which Japan calls Senkaku and China refers to as Diaoyu — has involved aircraft, introducing a new sphere of risky encounters for the two Asian neighbors.
Chinese government ships have repeatedly entered the waters around the remote, rocky islands since the Japanese government announced in September it was buying several of the islands from private owners.
As a result of the sighting, the Japanese Self Defense Force sent eight Boeing F-15J Eagle fighters and an early warning Northrop Grumman E2C Hawkeye to the area, the government said. By the time the Japanese aircraft arrived, there was no sign of the Chinese Harbin Y-12 maritime surveillance plane, which had not shown up on military radar, the Japanese Self Defense Force said.
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