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International relations

Japan scrambles fighters after Russian helicopter 'enters airspace'

Aircraft appears to bear red cross in incident off northern Hokkaido

A Russian serviceman jumps from the Mi-8 MTV military helicopter during an August 2020 demonstration in the Moscow region. Japan's Defense Ministry says an Mi-8 helicopter entered Japanese airspace on Oct. 2.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A Russian helicopter entered Japanese airspace off Hokkaido, the country's northernmost main island, on Friday, prompting the scrambling of Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets, the Defense Ministry said.

The Mi8 helicopter invaded Japanese airspace near Cape Shiretoko, eastern Hokkaido, at around 12:25 p.m. and the ASDF fighters warned it over the intrusion, the ministry said.

The chopper is believed to have entered Japanese airspace by accident as it flew out of the zone several minutes later without making any provocative actions, the ministry added.

Following the incident, the Japanese government lodged a protest with the Russian government through the Foreign Ministry.

According to the ministry, photos taken from the fighter jets show a yellow helicopter bearing a symbol appearing to be a red cross.

Its appearance suggests that the chopper does not belong to the Russian military.

 

Japan's Defense Ministry provided this photo of what it says was a Russian Mi-8 helicopter that crossed into Japanese airspace on Oct. 2.   © Kyodo

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