Tokyo ‘strongly suspects’ China flew spy balloons over Japan in 2019-21

The Japanese government said today that three unidentified flying objects seen in the country’s territory in the three years from 2019 were suspected to be Chinese spy balloons.

It was Japan’s first such announcement since the United States shot down a similar Chinese spy balloon earlier this month after it entered American airspace, according to a Defense Department official. The message said. The government also told China that Japan will not tolerate any violation of its airspace.

The three outbreaks were detected in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, in November 2019 and in the northeastern regions of Miyagi and Aomori in June 2020 and September 2021, respectively, according to the information. “We will put more effort than ever in intelligence gathering and surveillance operations against balloons, including those that are not responsible for foreign espionage,” he said in a press release.

The message did not explain why it thought the flying objects came from China. The announcement came as the ministry re-examined a previous case of unidentified flying objects when the United States shot down a Chinese balloon on February 4.

Meanwhile, the US military shot down four missiles over North American skies this month. Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters on Tuesday that the Self-Defense Forces would be allowed to use weapons, including air-to-air missiles, to counter air strikes.

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