. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Bombers Intrude Into Japan's Airspace

TOKYO, Japan - Several Russian bombers briefly intruded into Japan's air space twice Wednesday, the first such trespass since 1995, a spokesman for Japan's Defence Agency said.

Four Russian bombers entered Japanese airspace near Rebun island off Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, about 1,200 km north of Tokyo, and remained inside for about three minutes from 11.59 a.m., the military spokesman said.

The four Russian planes flew out of Japan's air space after Japanese military jets scrambled in response, he said.

Two other Russian bombers entered Japanese air space again for about three minutes from 2.36 p.m., he said.

The number of such cases has dropped drastically since the end of the Cold War, he said. Russian military jets last intruded into Japanese air space in March 1995, he said.

"We used to have that sort of air space intrusion by Russian aircraft frequently during the Cold War era," he said.

It was not immediately clear whether Japan's foreign ministry would lodge a protest with Moscow, a Foreign Ministry official said.

The intrusion came one day after the leaders of Japan and Russia agreed to meet Mar. 25 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk to work toward signing a peace treaty formally ending World War Two hostilities.

Ties between Japan and Russia have been strained for years over a territorial dispute involving four tiny Russian-held islands just north of Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido.

Japan wants the islands, which were seized by Soviet troops in the waning days of World War Two, returned before it signs any peace treaty or hands out substantial financial aid.