Japan’s Defense Ministry says a Russian helicopter entered Japanese airspace near Hokkaido this morning

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Japan scrambled a fighter jet on Wednesday in response to what appeared to be a Russian helicopter entering its airspace, the country’s military said, amid heightened tensions over the crisis in Ukraine.

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The helicopter crossed into Japanese airspace over waters off of the northern island of Hokkaido at 10:43 a.m., the defense ministry said in a brief statement. Japan issued warnings and sent an Air Self-Defense Force fighter to respond to the incursion, the ministry said.

Japan’s military will “continue to take all possible measures 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to protect Japan’s territory and the peaceful lives of its people,” the joint staff of the defense ministry said in a tweet.

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Tokyo issued a protest with the Russian government through a diplomatic channel, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Wednesday.

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Matsuno called the incident “extremely regrettable” and said Japan would continue to monitor the situation.




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