Japan scrambles fighters after China flights: media

This file picture taken on August 20, 2013 shows Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces helicopters flying over armoured vehicles during an annual live fire exercise at the Higashi-Fuji firing range in Gotemba, at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka prefecture. Destroyers, fighter jets and 34,000 troops will take part in a huge exercise aimed at bolstering Japan's ability to protect its remote islands, the government said on October 24, 2013, amid a territorial dispute with China.

TOKYO - Japan has scrambled fighter jets for two days running in response to four Chinese military aircraft flying over international waters near the Okinawa island chain, according to reports Sunday.

The jets were deployed on Friday and Saturday as four Chinese planes -- two Y8 early-warning aircraft and two H6 bombers -- flew between Okinawa's main island and Miyako island, Jiji Press and Kyodo News agency said.

The Chinese military planes flew from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean and back again, but did not violate Japan's airspace, the reports said.

The Japanese defence ministry was not immediately available for confirmation.

The ministry is on increased alert amid concerns that the Chinese military may be escalating action in the East China Sea, where Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a war of words over disputed islands that lie between Okinawa and Taiwan.

"There are concerns that China is attempting to change the status quo by force, rather than by rule of law. But if China opts to take that path, then it won't be able to emerge peacefully," Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Saturday.