The Japanese Ministry of Defense is considering whether to shoot down Chinese drones if the PLA decides to carry out routine patrols over contested islands in the East China Sea, reports the Tokyo-based Kyodo News.The islands, known as Senkaku to Japan, which controls them, are also claimed by China as Diaoyu and by Taiwan as Diaoyutai.
An article from an official PLA magazine published last October suggested that the Chinese military is planning to carry out routine aerial patrols over the islands. It stated that coast guard vessels alone cannot defend China’s sovereignty claims and the air defense identification zone set up by Beijing over the East China Sea. The PLA has an estimated 50 unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the report.
China deployed drones for island patrols for the first time in 2013 and has determined to carry out routine aerial patrols using drones as a response to US drone activities over the East China Sea. The US Air Force has deployed two of its RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles to Okinawa to monitor Chinese naval activities in the region. China has tried several times to jam the American drones flying over the disputed airspace, said the report.
A defense white paper published by the Japanese Ministry of Defense this year said that the only countermeasure the Japan Self-Defense Force can use against the intruding Chinese drones is to send fighters to intercept them. Defense officials are debating whether it is appropriate to shoot down Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles. Junichi Abe, a Japanese defense expert, suggests that it may be a bad idea as it would be viewed as extremely provocative from the Chinese perspective.