U.S. and Japan hold joint drills over disputed Diaoyutai Islands

Maneuvers clearly aimed at China: Japanese media

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A USAF B-52 bomber.

A USAF B-52 bomber. (By AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - A total of 16 Japanese jets and aircraft from the United States Air Force on Thursday conducted joint military drills over the Diaoyutai Islands disputed with China.

The islands, known as Senkaku in Japan, are uninhabited and controlled by Japan but also claimed by Taiwan.

Japan’s defense ministry said the round of maneuvers involved one B-52 bomber based in Guam with 12 Japanese F-15 jets from Chitose in Hokkaido, Komatsu in Ishigawa Prefecture and Naha on Okinawa, and four F-2 aircraft based in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Not only did the planes fly above the disputed Diaoyutai, but they also entered China’s self-declared “Eastern Sea Air Defense Identification Zone,” the Liberty Times reported.

While similar drills had taken place elsewhere in Japan last July and August, this was the first time that the Japanese military itself made the announcement that it had conducted such joint air exercises, reports said.

As the B52 could transport nuclear devices, the latest round of maneuvers was clearly aimed at China, according to Japanese media.