Japan-Russia islands dispute: fears tensions are dragging in US and China as jets scramble | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Japan-Russia islands dispute: fears tensions are dragging in US and China as jets scramble

Japan’s fighter aircraft have been scrambled to respond to a sharp increase in Russian military planes approaching Japanese airspace north of Hokkaido in recent weeks, as tensions escalate over a disputed island chain.

Experts say that Moscow’s activities are meant not only as a message to Tokyo in its long-running territorial dispute over the islands – referred to as the Northern Territories by Japan and the Southern Kurils by Russia – but as a show of strength for a domestic audience.

They also believe the Russian flights are aimed at gauging Washington’s position on the dispute, amid concerns that what was once a bilateral issue between Moscow and Tokyo is swiftly evolving into a multilateral one concerning the United States and China, too.

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