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Japan alleges Russian aircraft violated its airspace

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo of Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato

Japan’s Defense Ministry has alleged that a Russian An-26 aircraft violated the country’s airspace in the northeastern Shiretoko Peninsula on the island of Hokkaido, adding that Japanese fighter jets scrambled to escort the plane out of the area.

Following the early Sunday incident, Tokyo sent a protest note to Moscow through diplomatic channels in connection with the alleged violation, demanding the prevention of such incidents in the future, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said during a press briefing on Monday.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a protest to the Russian side through diplomatic channels and demanded that no repetition of [such incidents] be allowed," Kato declare, as quoted by Russia’s TASS news agency.

The Japanese defense ministry further noted that the plane had entered Japan's airspace twice within 30 minutes in the early hours of Sunday.

The ministry's press release issued later in the day included a photo of the aircraft that was taken from the Japanese warplanes escorting the Russian aircraft out of the country’s territorial airspace.

The Japanese minister also stated that Tokyo is currently analyzing the circumstances of the alleged airspace violation by the civilian aircraft to find out why it entered the Japanese airspace twice.

Russian officials have not yet reacted to the reported violation and it is not clear where the plane’s departure point and destination were.

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