Japan-Russia territory dispute heats up as fighter jets face off

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A long-running diplomatic row between Russia and Japan heated Thursday after the two countries faced off briefly via fighter jets over disputed island territories.

According to Reuters, Japan sent two combat fighter planes scrambling, after two Russian fighter jets reportedly flew into Japanese airspace. Russia, however, denied its jets intruded on Japan’s air, the report continues.

Russia is presently holding military maneuvers near Kurile Islands. The maneuvers come at a volatile time; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to go to Russia within the next couple week to discuss disputed territories, which include the island region, Reuters reports.

On top of that: Thursday happened to be Japan’s “Northern Territories Day.” That’s the day Japan sets aside each year to formally call for the return of its dispute lands.

“I had telephone talks with President Putin in December and told him I would like to work to find a mutually acceptable solution to this last-remaining major problem between Japan and Russia,” Mr. Abe said, of his upcoming talks, according to Reuters.

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