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September 25, 2017

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Tensions in East China Sea rise on Japan fly-by charges

TOKYO--Japan accused China of flying fighter jets "dangerously" close to two of its military planes over the East China Sea Wednesday, as bilateral tensions simmer over the countries' territorial dispute.

Two Chinese SU-27 jets flew as close as 30 meters (100 feet) away from the Japanese defense aircraft at about 11 a.m. local time (0200 GMT), the defense ministry in Tokyo said.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters his ministry had lodged a diplomatic complaint with China over the incident.

It was the second time in less than three weeks that Tokyo accused Beijing of "dangerous" flights by Chinese fighter jets against Japanese military planes.

The alleged incident occurred over the open seas near the disputed waters where China's stated air defense identification zone overlaps with that of Japan.

The area is about 200-300 kilometers (125-190 miles) north of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls the Diaoyus.

Defence Minister Onodera called the Chinese aircraft's maneuvers "extremely dangerous flights that could have led to an accident."

"We cannot allow this to happen," he said, urging Beijing to preventing a recurrence by by establishing a hotline between their defense officials.

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