The Weekly Standard
Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force base on Okinawa shares a runway with the civilian planes on this island about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo. When the American-made Japanese F-15s scramble, as they often do these days, the civilian traffic awaiting takeoff pulls over to a side taxiway. It must be a pretty decent air show for those with a window seat.
The F-15s scramble in pairs, perhaps a minute apart. Two flights of two roared off as I watched from a balcony at the base HQ, then another pair 20 minutes or so later. Most likely, they were off to intercept traffic inbound for airspace over Japan’s Senkaku Islands, to which China has laid a territorial claim that both Japan and its powerful ally, the United States, categorically reject. Planes from the Chinese mainland have repeatedly been probing to test the Japanese response. Scrambling to meet the provocations has been more or less a daily affair since last year. More Japanese F-15s are redeploying to Naha Air Base to meet the mounting demand. Continue reading