An apparently routine surveillance flight by a Chinese government prop plane has left both Japan and China on high alert over the disputed islands in the East China Sea, underscoring how much tensions have risen between the two.
The Y-12 prop plane belonged to the Chinese State Oceanic Administration, and was about 100 km north of the islands, which depending on your perspective are called either Diaoyu or Senkaku.
The Japanese Self Defense Forces deployed an F15 fighter aircraft in response to the plane, for some unknown reason, and China has responded by putting its own air force on high alert, expressing “concern” with Japan deploying warplanes in the area.
The islands were historically claimed by the Ming Dynasty. Japan annexed the islands in 1895, and the US occupied them in 1945. The US Senate returned the islands to Japan in 1972, but with the discovery of offshore oil deposits both China and Taiwan have also laid claims to them.