TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan scrambled fighter jets to head off aircraft approaching its airspace 1,168 times in fiscal 2016 amid China's increasing military activity, with the number exceeding the previous record set during the Cold War, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.
The overall number of incidents was up 295 from a year before but no aircraft violated Japanese airspace in the year through March 31, according to the ministry.
The deployments were mostly in response to movements of Chinese aircraft, with 851 involving the country's planes, up 280 from fiscal 2015. The number, also a record-high, is a sign of increased Chinese military activity in airspace above waters close to Japan.
"The number, range and length of time of the (Chinese aerial) activities are increasing and we expect this trend to continue," Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, the top uniformed officer in Japan's Self-Defense Forces, told a press conference.
The chief of the Self-Defense Forces' Joint Staff also explained that China's modernization of its air force and the intensifying information-gathering and surveillance activities in the East China Sea could be among the factors causing an increase in Chinese activity.
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