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Friday, Jan. 27, 2006

Russian plane intruded while tracking freighter


Staff writer

A Russian aircraft violated Japanese airspace seven times Wednesday night off northern Hokkaido, government officials said Thursday.

Russia's border guard bureau in Sakhalin told the Japanese Consulate in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on Thurday that one of its Antonov 72 transports was the intruder, the Foreign Ministry said.

The aircraft intruded between 7:07 p.m. and 7:33 p.m. some 30 km northwest of Wakkanai, a city on the northern tip of Hokkaido,Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said.

Kuninori Matsuda, head of the Foreign Ministry's Russian Affairs Division, lodged a protest with the Russian Embassy in Tokyo late Wednesday, demanding a thorough investigation and action to prevent a recurrence, Abe said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the border guards asked Wednesday night for Japan Coast Guard assistance, saying they were tracking a Russian freighter that violated Russian law. The plane apparently violated Japanese airspace while trying to track the ship, a ministry official said.

Six Air Self-Defense Force F-15 fighters were scrambled from Hokkaido's Chitose air base when the aircraft entered Japan's airspace and the ASDF radioed warnings.



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