China air move splits Japan as carriers obey new rules

China’s move is one of the most serious escalations in tensions between the two countries since September 2012.


ANA Japan Airlines


Japan’s government told its domestic airlines to stop reporting flight plans of aircraft traveling through a new air-defense zone set up by China that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rejects.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga of Japan said that the country can’t accept China’s “false” impositions on its airlines and the government told carriers to stop providing information to the Chinese.

ANA began informing China on Nov. 24 of flights to Hong Kong andTaiwan that pass through the area, Ryosei Nomura, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carrier said by phone today. JAL started informing China of its plans on Nov. 23, spokesman Takuya Shimoguchi said by phone. 

China’s move is one of the most serious escalations in tensions between the two countries since September 2012 when Japan bought three disputed islands in the East China Sea, setting off protests across China. The islands lie within the new air defense zone and China has threatened “defensive emergency measures” against unidentified aircraft it encounters there. 

China’s action may escalate the situation and lead to unforeseen events, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary committee yesterday, adding that he was very concerned. “We urge China to revoke this measure, which is in no way binding on Japan.”