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Japan, US Fly Fighters as Response     05/26 06:19


   TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese and U.S. forces have conducted a joint fighter jet 
flight over the Sea of Japan, Japan's military said Thursday, in an apparent 
response to a Russia-China joint bomber flight while U.S. President Joe Biden 
was in Tokyo.

   The Japan-U.S. joint flight on Wednesday involved eight warplanes based in 
Japan, including four U.S. F-16 fighters and four Japanese F-15s, the Joint 
Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces said.

   The joint flight was meant to confirm the combined capabilities of the two 
militaries and further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, it said in a 

   The flight occurred hours after North Korea fired three missiles, including 
an intercontinental ballistic missile, toward the sea between the Korean 
Peninsula and Japan, amid concerns about another nuclear test by the North. The 
missiles fell in waters outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone.

   Chinese and Russian strategic bombers conducted joint flights near Japan on 
Tuesday, Japan's Defense Ministry said. Biden was meeting with Japanese Prime 
Minister Fumio Kishida and their counterparts from India and Australia for the 
Quad, an Indo-Pacific security and economic coalition meant as a counterweight 
to China's growing influence in the region.

   Chinese H-6 bombers joined Russian TU-95s over the Sea of Japan and flew to 
areas over the East China Sea, but did not violate Japanese airspace, Japanese 
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. Separately, a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance 
plane was spotted flying off the northern Japanese coast.

   The Chinese-Russian joint flight represented an "increased level of 
provocation" and a threat to the Quad, Kishi said.

   China said the flights were over the the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea 
and the western Pacific. Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said it was a 
"routine joint strategic air patrol" that has been carried out four times since 

   "This operation is not aimed at a third party and has nothing to do with the 
current international and regional situation," he said in a video statement 
posted Wednesday on the Defense Ministry website.

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