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Islands Dispute Escalates as China and Japan Fighter Jets Arrive

 Tokyo responded by ordering F-15 fighters to fly over the area to investigation what they called meddling by the Chinese

Tokyo responded by ordering F-15 fighters to fly over the area to investigation what they called meddling by the Chinese

January 20, 2013 – At first, the airspace overlooking the East China Sea was tranquil. Last week a civilian surveillance plane was sent by the Chinese government to fly close to the islands at the center of an escalating feud between Japan and China. Tokyo responded by ordering F-15 fighters to fly over the area to investigation what they called meddling by the Chinese. China in turn responded to Japan’s response with its own fighter jets.

That was just the first time since the dispute erupted last year over the uninhabited islands that both the Japanese and Chinese had supersonic military fighters simultaneously in the air. It significantly increased the risk that a mistake could be made leading to an armed conflict during a time when the two countries, despite mutual interests economically, are experiencing a heightened period of nationalism that brings back to mind their rivalry that has been longstanding.

The new prime minister for Japan Shinzo Abe has had his invitation to Washington delayed and announced he was embarking on a Southeast Asia tour intended to cut into the influence of China in the area.

Abe said on Friday he had to cut his Asia trip short to return to Japan to help deal with the ongoing hostage crisis in the Sahara. Hillary Clinton the Secretary of the State for the U.S. said that Abe would meet in February with the President.

What is behind the dispute between China and Japan is the changing economic and military dynamic in Asia. In Japan, many experts speak of a country preparing for a decline, but Abe stressed how he does not agree that there will be a decline.

On the other side, China is full of confidence revealing it believes the 21st century is China’s and the islands are just the starting point.

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