According to the Japanese Ministry of Self-Defense, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has scrambled its jets 138 times throughout the last quarter of 2013.
All that happened due to the alleged provocative behaviour of China’s Air Force.
The number is pretty high, second highest during 2013. Only first quarter of last year was more intense with 146 scrambles; in Q2 (second quarter of the year) there were 69 interventions with 80 in Q3.
Obviously, much of the activity is related to crisis around Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.
In the period of 1945 and 1972 it was governed by the USA. Had it not been for this period the archipelago has been under the Japanese jurisdiction since 1895.
After 1972 the ownership was disputed by China, that claimed the islands, as well as Taiwan. The strategic location of the islands, fish density and probable oil reserves make this area highly desirable.
Japanese stance, on the flipside, is that the islands were found terra nullius by Japan late in the 19th century. Chinese argue that there is evidence that the islands were posessed by China before the first Sino-Japanese war in 1894-1895. The argument Chinese state is that the islands, being a part of territories conquered by the Imperial Japan, should be henceforth returned.
Anyway, regardless of the validity of the claims by both sides, what is clear is that the amount of scrambles by the Japanese QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cells can be used to measure the status of the (difficult) diplomatic relationships on the Beijing-Tokyo line.
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist
Image Credit: U.S. Air Force