The government has asked domestic airlines to refrain from submitting their flight plans to Chinese authorities, which they began following China's recent establishment of an air defence identification zone in the East China Sea including the Senkaku Islands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.
The request was conveyed to Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and other domestic carriers Monday via the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. However, the spokesmen at the two airlines said they would continue to provide the flight plans for the time being.
"We notified the carriers that this step by China will not have any effect on Japan, and the government will continue to apply conventional rules as before," the top government spokesman said.
The request was made amid concern within the government that if Japanese airlines submit flight plans, it would be tantamount for giving approval to China's zone, which includes airspace over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. China has insisted that flight plans must be provided for aircraft that fly through the zone.
Earlier Tuesday, the government held a meeting of the Security Council of Japan at the Prime Minister's Office to discuss how to deal with China's establishment of the zone.
A JAL spokesman said the airline was waiting for official notification of the request.
"We'll continue to submit our flight plans because we haven't received the government's official request in writing yet," the spokesman said. "We'll consider such a request if it is issued by the government."
JAL had already submitted flight plans for some routes to Taiwan and Hong Kong before the government called for airlines to refrain from providing these plans.
An ANA spokesman said the airline would not change its policy of submitting flight plans for the time being. "Ensuring the safety of flights is the top priority for airlines," the spokesman said.